Comparison of Mississippi Masala and
“Notes of a Native Speaker”
Race is characterized as the color of your skin or your appearance (black, white, etc). Your ethnicity is your actual biological background (African American, Scottish, Irish, etc). Some people use race and ethnicity interchangeably. We like to say that we're all the same on the inside, but some people believe we're not. This confusion of race and ethnicity is a big part which creates racism, prejudice, and hate without a reason. In 1990 a wonderful movie called Mississippi Masala came out. Eight years later, “Notes of a Native Speaker” was written by Eric Liu. Even though these stories are a few years apart and about different topics, the main characters still struggle with racism and ethnicity.
In Mississippi Masala the main character Mina, an Indian woman, fights with racism and prejudice. Mina and her family move to Mississippi from Uganda, Africa, where they were expelled with other Indians like herself in 1972. There is a lot of racial tension between the Black people that have already lived there and the Indians that just moved there. Mina becomes puzzled because she lives in America, looks Indian and was born and raised in Africa. Demetrius, a Black man she met in Mississippi, could not believe her when she told him she had never been to India.
This idea of ethnicity confusion from Mississippi Masala compares with the situation in “Notes of a Native Speaker.” The author, Eric Liu, was born and raised in America, but his ethnicity is Chinese. He grew up with a weird relationship with race and ethnic identity. He understands a conversation in Chinese, but he can’t speak it very well, much less write anything in Chinese. He questions himself about his ethnicity traits, whether he is "Chinese" or "American," "Asian" or "white.” He considers himself American. But when people look at him, they judge him as Asian, even though he hardly practices the Asian culture. His parents didn’t really...