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Time Magazine's Joel Stein Characterizes South Asians, SAALT Responds

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By Deepa Iyer, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together

Joel Stein’s take on how immigration patterns have changed the landscape of Edison, New Jersey (“ My Own Private India”, July 5, 2010) is offensive and misinformed, and definitely not funny. Relying on economic and educational stereotypes, Mr. Stein provides a cursory history of Indian immigration to Edison that neglects to mention how Indian businesses, families, and entrepreneurs have contributed to the revitalization of the economy and the cultural fabric in New Jersey for decades.

Most offensive is Mr. Stein’s flippant characterization of the horrible hate crimes that Indians endured in the 1980s at the hands of the New Jersey Dotbusters in the 1980s. Why is it that Mr. Stein has a bone to pick with Indian immigrants, whose presence, experiences, and contributions mirror those of Irish and Italian immigrants in New Jersey? South Asians have been an integral part of this country’s fabric since the 1800’s, and the vibrant immigrant community that they are part of in Edison should be celebrated rather than derided.

We are also encouraging community members to take a few simple steps to register their concerns with Time magazine:

- Send a comment to Time Magazine’s editors registering your opinions about the piece. Comments can be brief and personal conveying what your own reaction was to the column; be sure to reference the article name and author (“My Own Private India” by Joel Stein). They can be emailed to letters@time.com.

- Sign the petition to Time Magazine’s editors. Community members can join SAALT’s petition expressing concerns about the column and asking the magazine to open a space for a response to the column; convene a dialogue regarding its impact on the South Asian community; and refrain from publishing future pieces that fail to treat immigrant communities with respect. The petition can be found here.

- Forward this email to your friends, family members, and colleagues. The more community members that Time magazine hears from, the more likely they are to respond.