Column: Students should spread appreciation, acceptance of different cultures

Writer advocates for school-wide ‘Culture Day’


Juliana Cruz

Holding hands, Andres and Rosetta Cruz, parents of junior Juliana Cruz and sophomore Luis Cruz, stand for photos in traditional Indian clothing. “Everyone passing probably smells the food,” Rosetta Cruz said after eating Indian cuisine. “That’s definitely why they’re staring.” In Prosper ISD alone, the South Asian student population has grown to 15.54% of the community. However, some of these students voice they aren’t feeling a connection to the overall community.

Juliana Cruz, Reporter

Age-old stereotypes and generalizations of South Asians have created problems and offended students. Most recently at Prosper High School, a guest DJ brought into the cafeteria by Principal Nicholas Jones played the Panjabi MC – Mundian To Bach Ke (The Dictator Soundtrack),” which garnered a mixed reaction from students. In the past, the song has been used out of context and made into memes making fun of the South Asian music style. The students’ reactions played into the negative ideas that strangers on the internet share. Indian-American students, including myself, were offended by the event because it hurt many feelings, was embarrassing and overall a mocking joke.

The reason for that offense should have never occurred. If students had the opportunity to experience and be educated about the different cultures represented in our school, these types of negative events could be avoided. PHS needs to have a “culture day,” which could be a good start at fixing these issues.

Prosper, Texas, is now growing at a rate of 6.43%. The demographics of the Indian-American population in the area have grown 2% — to a total of 1,176 new people. In this school district alone, the South Asian student population has grown to 15.54% of the community. However, some of these students have voiced they aren’t feeling a connection to the overall community.

The main problem facing South Asian students is the ignorance of others. According to a reporter from This Is Guernsey, Tracy M. Hall, “You’ll be able to smell the musty odor from the shirt and the body sweat coming off of (Indians) so strongly that you may feel extremely uncomfortable,” Hall said, “(as well as,) annoyed by their habit of bathing a lot.” To explain the stereotype of “Indians smelling,” she said that the “musty” smell that Indians give off is from their way of living and popular cuisines.

Parthivi Nair, a former student at PHS, experienced multiple instances of racism throughout her four years in high school. Tiktok has allowed many people to go viral through dances, including a trend to do a dance while wearing DIY face masks. One student made a remark about the viral turmeric mask Nair had been using.

“Why do you have curry on your face?” the student said, with a questioning expression.

Nair said she felt it was something not to be joked about, since Indians have always been stereotyped negatively.

“I’m fine when it comes to jokes,” Nair said. “But this just wasn’t even funny – and just showed the ignorance that some people don’t want to fix.”

Nair stands in support of introducing a “Culture Day” to PHS, but she also voiced concerns.

“It will help those who are genuinely interested and care for learning about other cultures,” Nair said. “But for those who aren’t mature enough — it will be seen as a mockery.”

The Gates of Prosper shopping center also has experienced growth in demographic changes with its customers, specifically at Pie Five. Corporate changed the menu at the Prosper location, allowing customers to have a taste of worldwide foods. The “Tandoori Feather,” a recent addition to their signature pizzas, has been getting mixed reactions from not just customers, but employees as well. Tandoori today is known in India for the temporary stain it can leave on your skin and on your clothing, which is why the chicken is always the last ingredient on the pizza, so it doesn’t cross-contaminate the other foods.

However, employees continue to make a mockery of the Indian customers that walk in. With a fake Indian accent, one of the employees said, “Can I get the Tandoori Feather and something with veggies.” They not only mock the accent, but they also nod their heads and do humorous dances, adding to the stereotype.

Students are in favor of “Culture Day” becoming a school event. Student Council president senior Savannah Yager said she believes that this will help the students learn about something new and different.

“I think adding a culture day to PHS would really benefit our student body,” Yager said. “I think there are so many traditions to various cultures that are really cool, but as a community, we are still so uneducated on these things.”

Our uniqueness highlights individual excellence. If we can create a day where students can represent their colors, dishes and clothing and spread what we cherish, then peers may be able to understand the importance of celebrating what makes others special, instead of viewing differences in a negative light.