Are you a good desi or a bad desi?

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By Guest Contributors: Avani Chhaya & Soham Sengupta

Truth is, you can inadvertently be both a good and bad desi.

A desi, an individual of South Asian descent, is dropped into two buckets. If you are a desi like us, you have probably also heard your aunties and uncles refer to “good” and “bad” desis. “Bad” desis are the lower-wage earners in South Asian communities, including teachers, taxi drivers, artists, convenience store workers and motel employees.

“This is your last year of teaching, right?” was the oft-repeated question from our parents. “To what?” was often our reply. Our parents’ responses came swift: “To other things.” This conversation plays out across South Asian households with desi parents wanting their children to become a Dr. or L.L.B — the “good” desi careers that were decidedly not our M.Ed’s. Those “other” occupations include medical school, business school, or law school —  careers steeped in prestige. Teaching, on the other hand, is hardly given a nod of recognition and is more commonly regarded as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things.

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