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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Chandrika Dalal, July 22, 1999. Interview K-0814. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Indian culture informs Dalal's belief that attitudes remain unchanged by social improvements

As with the "untouchable" populations in India, Dalal asserts that even though education and increased job opportunities provide more opportunities, they will not alter Americans' anti-immigrant attitudes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Chandrika Dalal, July 22, 1999. Interview K-0814. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANDREW JILANI:
That's prejudice, yeah. So, Chandrika, I-, I want to go back to my question. I was-, er… thinking that how, as Asian-, as South-Asians, we can work to finish this discrimination?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
I don't think so. How much you try, you are still foreign people.
ANDREW JILANI:
Uh-huh.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
It's no change. Just like, one day-, I watch(ed) in the Sixty Minutes-, untouchable-, Miss "Achhoot".
ANDREW JILANI:
Achhoot?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Achhoot. Yes. In India—. And I have a friend-, Barbara Prior-, she's American. And she watched that show and she's asking me, (that) how can people treat somebody like that-, untouchable. I say I don't make the rules, society make(s) that rules, and I can't change the society. Okay? One person make the change, but not all the time. It's-, happened for years, and years, and years. My father is really just person. He don't allow that untouchable people-, they clean our toilet. They pick up our trash from the street. But still, it's there. They wear clean dresses, clean clothes. They are clean, but still, in my town in Surat they have a separate area for the. They can't stay next to us. So-, and I can't change it. It is not only mine. It is my family, what they believe. My parents, my grandparents, you know. All my brothers, sister-in-law, they are religious people, they don't believe. I have—.
ANDREW JILANI:
Your-, your father was a-, was priest, in a temple?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
No. Religious.
ANDREW JILANI:
Religious. What does that mean?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Religious means believe in God.
ANDREW JILANI:
Believe in God.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
So-, whatever rules they have-, they just obey.
ANDREW JILANI:
He obeys. Okay.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Untouchable people-, they do dirty things, and they are always ( ) by society. I can't change it. Nobody can change it. Some things are always there. Law can't help them. Law(s) change—. They now-, now they have a free education, they have a-, some percentage job- opportunity, too. But still, society don't accept them. You know?
ANDREW JILANI:
Uh-huh. Yeah. The untouchables.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
So-, you can't change the world. It's so hard to change. Somebody-, I heard all the time in this country. I don't like him, I don't like her. All the time I heard it, and I don't understand what is this meaning? We all are human being(s), if you don't like somebody, just stay away. Don't talk. But don't say openly, I don't like him, or I don't like her. What is this? That is a wrong speech, you know. You are human being, why you don't like somebody-, somebody you like too much, and somebody you don't like, and hurt-, bad way. That's not right. Human being have to be like each other. If you don't like, just stay away, don't talk, don't keep any friendship, or relation, or something. But don't hurt people. That's so bad.
ANDREW JILANI:
Yeah.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
You love pets-, dog, cat, whatever you keep. But you don't like human being? You say you don't like him, and you don't like her, what is this?
ANDREW JILANI:
Is that a—. You are referring to this country?
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
Yeah.
ANDREW JILANI:
That people like pets, and—.
CHANDRIKA DALAL:
I heard all the time. My daughter, or some people, in working place, or in the town, some people say I don't like her, I don't like him-, what is this? I don't understand this mentality, you know.