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Parallel Worlds

In Honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Sharon resident Bharathi Patimalla-Dipali (she/her) shares her experience as a member of the AAPI community.

I was born in India, grew up in Northeastern PA, and made my way to the Boston area for work in my early 20's. As an analyst within the public sector I'm well versed in the ways of incremental change and find that 'slow and steady' really does win the race. Yes, sometimes a jolt to the system is a good wake-up but without the right foundation, nothing sticks for too long.

My family and I moved to Sharon about three years ago and are very happy immersing ourselves within the AAPI community and the community at large. To be honest, we weren't aware of the vast AAPI community within Sharon until after the move. I'm currently an active member of the Indian American Association of Sharon and am learning new ways to navigate the space everyday. The question I seem to ask often - what is my intent and what is the impact of that to those around me?

My experience is a confusing one – I’m a mix of both worlds yet part of neither. This struggle of being straddled is exhausting. I was 11 years old when we immigrated to this country from India and suddenly everything I was turned out to be wrong – the way I spoke though it was English, what I said, what I wore, everything. In an instant – I felt lost and confused. We (back in India) called all our American born cousins ‘Confused Desis’ but what I never realized was that it wasn’t a choice, this confusion of theirs (and now mine). It was a genuine sense of being lost and trying to find their identity. Of being a square peg in a round hole.

The trouble is, that lost feeling isn’t gone 29 years later I’ve just learned how to numb the sensation, how to look through that confused fog. Things are better, they have progressed oh so slowly, as we in public service know all too well, incremental change is slow and painful but sustaining.

As an adult, I realized I’ve assimilated into this tapestry of American culture a bit easier than others because I was Brown not Black, I spoke the language, I did my best to assimilate and not stand out. In other words, I was experiencing the consequences of the model minority myth. Once again, I’m straddled – should I be thankful or insulted; should I be grateful or ashamed. I struggle with how to find my place in this conversation about racism because of this.

I do know this, I wasn’t aware how palpable these struggles were until I entered the AAPI space, until we started talking about it. That is key, we keep talking about it, conversation is not a waste of time, not when it leads to action, leads to change. For conversation to happen, we must create a space, a safe space where one can be honest and vulnerable. These Affinity groups are accomplishing this, they have created this space and I am very hopeful as to where these conversations lead and what tomorrow will bring.

For more information on the model minority myth, please visit these resources:


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