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Siddharth Raj '22

Siddharth Raj

Major: Theatre Arts

Bio: Siddharth is originally from sunny California, but considers himself a true New Yorker now because he has been to all the Manhattan locations where scenes from the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy were filmed. In addition to studying acting as a member of Fordham's theatre program, Siddharth also enjoys writing, performing improv and sketch comedy, and brewing cold brew coffee.

Title of Research: "Brown Voice" and Cultural Cringe: Internalized Racism within the South Asian American Community
Mentor: Dr. Britta Ingebretson
Abstract: This research paper examines the effects that the portrayals of South Asian characters in American film and television have had on South Asian Americans. In particular, it sheds light on the way in which “brown voice” (the caricaturistic accent used to ridicule and stereotype South Asian people) has led to the development of cultural cringe within the South Asian American community. “Cultural cringe” is a term coined in 1950 by Australian writer A.A. Phillips to describe the internalized inferiority complex that causes one to dismiss their own culture as inferior to others. I referred to books and documentaries to analyze the history of Indian and South Asian characters in Hollywood media, from the 1960s to now. To augment this data, I conducted a survey and a set of follow-up interviews with members of the South Asian American community. Through the data collected in the surveys and interviews, I show how portrayals of South Asian characters on screen have contributed to widespread internalized racism and cultural cringe within the South Asian community. South Asian Americans are seen as a “model minority” group. This myth perpetuates the falsity that we are somehow exempt from experiencing racism in the United States. My research proves that not only do South Asians ee racism by the way in which we are portrayed in media, but that these harmful depictions also cause something equally regrettable; internalized racism in the form of cultural cringe.