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Nikki Haley for Governor

On June 23, Nikki Haley became the first Indian American woman ever to become a candidate for governor. She is riding a wave of Indian American politicians who have emerged into the limelight as contenders for a variety of positions. According to the Associated Press, at least “eight children of Indian immigrants are running for Congress or statewide office, the most ever.”

Haley’s case is unique. Many in particular accuse her of foregoing her cultural identity in order to make inroads into the political arena, especially within South Carolina, a state with noted conservative roots. Her name change, her appearance and in particular her conversion to Christianity from Sikhism has made a target to political observers, who question the genuineness of her choices. Did Haley make the choices that she did to cater to the personal preferences of Republican voters? Or was Haley herself trying to escape her own heritage?

Regardless, the door to her personal history has now been thrown open. What remains to be seen is if she can win the office, based on what she has crafted herself upon.

What do you think? Did Haley need to change in order to make herself more “marketable”? What about candidates that have successfully — SHARMEEN NOOR

6 thoughts on “Nikki Haley for Governor

  1. I think she did. It would be very hard for a Sikh woman named Nikesh to be governor of SC. Just sayin’

    Barak Hussain Obama is an outlier!

  2. This is America. One has the freedom of religion and expression. She chose the path of freedom, and if she wants to reach her God through Christianity, that is her choice and this great nation allows it. One does not change religious and cultural identity for a few years in public office. Usually, these life altering decision are caused by profound influences in life. The article omitted to mention how recent is Niki’s conversion and if they approached her on the issue. Unless, this Niki has a history of switching sides for instant gratification, such accusations are insulting to both American and Indian cultures.

    If she wins, it will be on her merits, not on her cultural background, whether Indian or American. Also, those who are American citizens are Americans first, then everything else. So stop grinding the segregative ax of the past and join us in the now.

    Peace!

  3. I don’t see how her case is unique. Just look at Bobby Jindal…He also changed his name and religion, and it’s highly unlikely that he would be governor of Louisiana if he hadn’t done those things. And in a place like South Carolina, it would be even less likely. Hopefully, there will be a day when Indian Americans don’t have to do that, but clearly that day hasn’t come yet.

  4. This reminds me of an interview with Bobby Jindal and his wife on 60 Minutes (or some other similar show), where the interviewer asked his wife if they kept any of the Indian “traditions” in their home and they both got uncomfortable at the question and answered that no, they really didn’t and instead they were just “native Louisianans.” So there certainly seems to be a need for Indian-American politicians to distance themselves from the foreignness (or Otherness) of being Desi in the US, especially if they are trying to appeal to a white conservative base, as Jindal and Haley are. Both seem to have “whitewashed” themselves to make themselves viable in Republican politics, which of course in and of itself is tied with ideas of normative whiteness and nativist (and some might argue xenophobic) politics.

  5. I agree 100% with Jasen. As an Indian-American, the Southern states are the LAST states I would represent! The racism alone would kill me and ‘selling out’ is NOT the answer.

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