Take the leap.

#Minority is this Thursday at @BeyuCaffe

This week I heard about a video the European Union took down because it was racist. A white, European woman defends herself against nonwhite, aggressive and ready-to-attack actors.

For two months at the top of this year, I did a study of the images of the ‘self’. The more magazines aimed at my age bracket and gender I read, the more annoyed I got. What were they trying to say to me about ‘beauty’? Why does the color ‘flesh’ in the Crayola box not match mine?

It begins to dawn on me slow that I am not ‘the picture’ of what an American mom and entrepreneur looks like. People see my face, and they see ‘Indian person.’ I mean, that’s just how it is. People see me with my stroller, and they say, ‘Mom.’ They don’t say, ‘There goes Dipika Kohli, who runs a brand marketing studio.’

The move back to the South pushed this into high relief for me.

Men in suits at a tech startup event in Durham looked right through me when I asked about their businesses. It was weird, because I was a newsreporter for two years, and more accustomed to people paying careful attention. I’d interviewed loads of people at countless dozens of tech events in Seattle, and when my son was born, sometimes with him sleeping in my sling. I couldn’t understand the cold shoulder. Maybe it was because I was Indian, female, or pushing about my stroller with the boss-man, then not quite yet 2. But what if I were a white male? Would the response be different? I am not about to go off to some poetry slam and vent about my feelings being an oppressed minority. But I am open to a frank, and open dialogue.

It was annoying to be taken so lightly, especially coming from the West Coast, where I feel more at ease in my multiplicity of roles. Questions of identity come up a lot in my life. Am I a mother? A wife? A daughter? A business owner? On the heels of International Women’s Day, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Again. It’s easy to feel like you get overlooked, being any one of these things on its own. I told Akira, ‘You’re the face of Design Kompany, now that we’re back in the South. People don’t take me as seriously as a business owner, ’cause I’m a mom to a little kid.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Dipika. I’m an Asian man. It’s really not that different.’


Trying to think up people to invite as guests for MINORITY, I reached out to Casey Steinbacher at the Durham Chamber of Commerce about this, because she’s one of the women who’s broken through the glass ceiling. I asked her to come to MINORITY.

[UPDATE: March 11 Just confirmed! Casey can be there!] At the time of this writing, it’s still unconfirmed, but Casey was very open about the idea when I called her about it a month ago.

I also invited a very amazing woman I just met, Leonidas Salas Córdova, who is part of the LGBT Task Force at Duke University. [UPDATE: March 11 Lea will be there, too!] (LGBT is refers to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people. I got to know this as an everyday term after reading countless of Dan Savage columns, which read more interestingly after meeting him in real life once in Seattle when Akira and I were there.)

But the more I thought about it, the less interesting the idea of ‘guest speakers’ for this one seems. Because as I myself have learned, we don’t like to be labeled. We like to choose how we identify. If someone had an event about Indian-American people and asked me to speak, I would probably be annoyed. I don’t want to be pegged, I want to choose what to be a part of. That’s why these self-selecting dialogue roundtables work. If you come, it’s because you want to be there. So, no guest speakers for this one, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a touchy topic as it is. I didn’t want to make it overformal.

Still, I’m intrigued by the question of what it is to be ‘in the minority,’ whatever and however one defines it.

Let’s just show up, and see what happens? –DK

Thursday, March 15
Beyu Caffe


  1. […] of us gathered for MINORITY, a conversation about being overlooked, last night at the Beyu Caffe in Durham, and after circling […]