Still needing an ethnic crutch

For the first time, I went to the Indian-American program at OU. These are the hyphenated Americans whose parents immigrated to this country.

The kids all acted and sounded Oklahoman. Their accents, sense of humor and speaking patterns all owe more to Broken Arrow or Edmond than to Gujarat or Kerala. Yet, nearly every one of the kids seemed to be part of an almost exclusively Indian fraternity/sorority. I was surprised that a university as small as OU (20,000 students) sports two "South Asian interest" fraternities and one such sorority.

The popularity of the fraternities probably is because 18-year olds gravitate towards what's comfortable. One of the videos in the program showed a homesick freshman coed being taken under the wing of a sorority and adjusting to life away from home. Yet ... why not just a regular Greek house? Why a "South-Asian interest" one?

When I was in grad school at Ohio State, it was interesting that when assignments had to be done in teams, all the teams would be ethnically homogeneous. The Turks would all do a project together; the French would team up with other French fellows; the Chinese would form a couple of groups and the Indians another (there were not enough Americans in engineering graduate school for them to be too picky on whom to consort with).

Maybe I was naive, but I'd expected that second-generation Americans would not need such an ethnic crutch. But apparently, they do.

P.S. Just so that it is clear: I am not casting any sort of aspersion on these kids. There is a lot of daylight between a few kids joining an ethnic fraternity and a nefarious cycle of poverty and radicalism such as when:
... six of ten ethnic Pakistanis in Britain pick a spouse from Pakistan ... British-born Pakistanis, or those who immigrated as children, are more likely to have foreign spouses than those who came to Britain as adults. This startling fact may help to explain why Pakistanis (and Bangladeshis, who have similar marital habits) are failing to close the gap with other ethnic groups on female employment. Only a quarter of ethnic Pakistani women work, compared with 64% of Indians, for example. Mr Manning thinks something has to give: British women have greater earning power than their Pakistani husbands, which makes traditional roles in the home less plausible. In some cases, extremism may stem in part from male frustration that the old order is being subverted, he speculates.

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