Moushumi Dey

As Interviewed by Soh Nishiyama, March 14, 2017

Moushumi Dey: In Her Words

When did you move to the United States?

August 7th, 2005.

While you were in Bangladesh, what was your thoughts about the United States?

I was excited. I was happy that I was coming to a different country. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was coming to college, I was happy to start a different chapter of my life, just very excited.

So, when you actually gone into the United States, what was your first impressions?

It as very good. People were very nice. It was different because I saw people wanted to talk with strangers. People were warm, they smiled, they’re very helpful, very polite. So yeah, it was a very good first impression.

So, how did the people in the United States think of you?

They were very kind to me, so from what I got thought I was really smart but at the same time, they respected me, but at the same time, they were very kind because they understood that I was a foreigner here without my parents so everybody was really, really helpful, but at the same time, because I was a student on scholarship, everybody was like, “Oh, you’re so smart,” which it was different but, it was a strange feeling off you know being very, very respectful, but at the same time, helpful, so I liked it.

So I can see that your first impressions were good, but when was the first time [meant to say “you”] had a problem with someone else, in the United States?

It was when I was in my junior year, I was walking across the street right outside my campus, and somebody in a car was driving by and yelled “Terrorist!” And immediately, I did not know that that person was yelling at me ’cause I was so confused. I looked around and I saw that person driving the way he was actually shouting “terrorist” at me because I was wearing my Bengali clothes, which looked very Muslim clothes.

I can see that you just ignored him, but is there anything surprising, or like, how did it end?

I was in shock, I would say for a whole day, I told my friends like, “Hey, did you know what happened?” And everyone was very surprised and sad. Immediately, I didn’t know how to react, it was just bizarre.

Was there like other times when people gave you racist comments?

Yes. Actually here in Austin, about a year and a half ago, I was on Guadalupe, just walking to get food, and some guy -- he looked kind of crazy -- he shouted at me like “Go back home, Muslim!” Which is funny -- I’m not Muslim and I’m not a terrorist, so that was interesting. But at the time, I didn’t say anything, cause…

Have you ever witnessed someone struggling?

Yes, some of my friends who are from Bangladesh, they wear hijabs, like they cover their face and their full body because they’re Muslim, they’re from really conservative families. They’re just very religious people, so sometimes they’ll come and tell me that you know, they feel uncomfortable. People kind of look at them strangely, in a suspicious way. But, not everybody, not always, just sometimes.

How do you feel about racist people in general?

Few things. I don’t like them. I avoid them as much as I can. But at the same time, you know, I understand most racist people are probably afraid and they haven’t really interacted with people outside their races as much. That’s what I think.

How big of a problem do you think racism is in the United States?

Currently, it’s a big problem, especially in the United States because the U.S is very powerful -- you know their education rate is pretty high. So given these things, I don’t expect racism to exist at all or minimum, but right now, it’s, it’s a pretty big problem.

So do you think you can change, like can you get (it) like a little better?

Absolutely yes, people are very good by nature. I don’t think people are born evil. So yeah, if we teach them and if we help people understand that racism is inherently just not good, it doesn’t need to exist, I think people will change, definitely.

So, are you worried if you like stay, even if Donald Trump wasn’t the president, but would you still be worried to stay anyways?

No, I’m only worried because Donald Trump is president and he brings out the racism -- and I, I feel like he invokes the sense of fear in most people, and that fear of foreigners of course you know, fear of outsiders, and that starts up the racism in people, which yeah -- it definitely scares me. He’s not a good leader.

So, do you have like, any thoughts of moving back to Bangladesh?

No, I don’t think it’s that bad, bad that I have to.

In conclusion, what are your current thoughts about the United States?

It’s a very good country, I think most people are genuinely good you know, people have good nature, I like being here. I think it’s just the current environment is unfortunate because political reasons, but I think it’s a great, great place.