​That One Time A Drunk Old Man Thought Mindy Kaling Was Malala Yousafzai

Illustration for article titled ​That One Time A Drunk Old Man Thought Mindy Kaling Was Malala Yousafzai

As a South Asian with brown skin, I have been mistaken for plenty of other girls of a variety of different ethnicities who look absolutely nothing like me, though I am sure they are great (despite their not being me). So I suppose it's just as comforting as it is incredibly frustrating to know that shit happens to even the most recognizable Indian American lady in American pop culture today, Mindy Kaling.


The New York Times gives us this anecdote from an after party Kaling attended at the New Yorker Festival:

As she stood by the banquettes, a tipsy man in his 80s cornered her and showered her with compliments, apparently mistaking her for Malala Yousafzai. "Congratulations on your Nobel Prize," he said, before expressing wonder at how well she had recovered from Taliban gunshots.

Ms. Kaling was speechless. "Did he really think I'm Malala?" she said when he was safely out of sight. "And that if I were, I'd be at the Boom Boom Room?"

Still, she thought it was pretty funny: "That's the best thing that's happened all night."


Yep. Indian-heritage American being confused for a Pakistani activist. Jesus. Ah tokenism (or as I like to call it, Tolkein-ism, because there is only one). That, my friends, is racist.

Images via Getty.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I'm Indian, and once an old white lady thought I was Padma Lakshmi and asked me for cooking tips, even though I was like 15 and was wearing Lycra sweatpants