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Thursday, September 21, 2023


The South Asian community needs to stop degrading studying humanities

Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

While liberal arts and studies in the humanities have gained popularity in the millenial and Gen Z South Asian community, many still face criticism from parents and older relatives, which is disrespectful and needs to stop. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

I remember being a kid in grade school and English always being my favorite subject. There was so much free thinking and no answer was wrong. 

I loved class discussions in my philosophy class that took place during my first semester of college, but oftentimes I had to hide that. 

I had to hide that I was in the drama club, newspaper and enjoyed writing essays because I would end up being teased or a family member would tell me to go away. 

The South Asian community and the humanities have a rocky relationship, sometimes tumultuous, with a good majority of the population not being the biggest cheerleader.

While this mentality has died down within millennials and Generation Z as more of the South Asian youth is going into the humanities, older generations stick with it by heart. 

They believe that the people in the humanities aren’t disciplined, talk too much, are weak and overly sensitive. They’re not cut throat to survive in the real world they say. 

This piece is catered to a much younger audience, as this is something that is most likely to occur to an age group that is trying to figure themselves out and where their interests lie by joining groups that best suits them at their school.

But when you come to think about it, the South Asian community still continues to constantly degrade those in the humanities, even to those trying to pursue a career in the humanities.

I come from personal experience. 

As a daughter of South Asian immigrants, I have become numb to the constant degrading and bullying that I have faced because of my career path, which is why this piece is near and dear to my heart. At the beginning I mentioned that I often had to hide my interests so I wouldn’t face the constant teasing from family members. 

They would say stuff to my parents like, “you need to talk to Saira, get her head in the right space,” because I wrote for fun and enjoyed class discussions, and “don’t worry she’ll grow out of this, it’s just a phase.”

I remember always feeling so defeated and small that academic achievements didn’t matter because I didn’t do my algebra exam in under 20 minutes. I eventually stopped caring, but it took a long time, words can stick. 

They still continue to degrade me hoping “I would come to my senses,” but I avoid them whenever the topic comes up. 

This is why the South Asian community needs to stop having this mentality where people in the humanities aren’t good enough. 

Their own kids might want to be a part of it or proudly are a part of it. The humanities is filled with a diverse range of subjects. 

The best part is that there isn’t a wrong answer, there’s thousands of different perspectives to learn from. The humanities are able to work alongside their STEM peers. 

They’re successful people, they just view the world a little differently.

Saira Haque is an anthropology junior who can be reached at [email protected]

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