Welcome to the Nikita Initiative

Me, Nikita Srivastava, wearing the Central Park Exonerated5 Shirt.

Hello Internet,

My name is Nikita Srivastava. I am an Indian woman who carries herself with the confidence of a heterosexual white male. Now, I don’t intentionally act like a white man. It kinda just happened. Apparently, if a woman demonstrates confidence in her abilities, intellect and strives for success, then she is acting like a white man. (Sorry, not sorry)

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Am I A Big Girl Now?

I don’t feel like an adult.

Have you all seen While We’re Young? No? Eh, doesn’t matter. It’s a pretty okay movie. Anyways, there is a moment in the movie where the main characters describe their adulthood as “a child pretending to be an adult.” And, quite frankly, that’s how I feel…like, all the time.

I’m financially independent. Not afraid to ask for help. Always pay my bills on-time. Also, I don’t avoid confrontation. I am not on my parent’s health insurance for Pete’s sake! Full-on adult, right? Yes. Then, why don’t I feel like one? Rather, is there such a feeling of adulthood?

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For Fuck’s Sake: Wear A Mask

Dear people living in America during this pandemic,

Wear a motherfucking mask.

I am tired of seeing your Snapchat stories where you’re at bar or hosting “beer Olympics” with a group of many friends, but not wearing a mask or maintaining social distance. I’m sick of seeing social media pictures of you with a large group of friends, partying and celebrating, but not wearing a goddamn mask or social distancing. Then, you have the audacity to post articles and memes about the “other side of the aisle” not wearing masks and how our COVID-19 stats are increasing.

I don’t care if you want to go out and won’t let the pandemic stop you from celebrating life. Great, but wear a mask. You’re not invincible. You could die from COVID-19. Or, you could give it to someone who could die from it. Getting tested is horribly intrusive. It’s 10 seconds of hell. And, waiting for the results is even worse. Then, if you have it, who knows what your symptoms will be. It’s such an unpredictable virus that we all must be careful. Also, not everyone can afford to get tested if they have no health insurance. (So many reasons to wear a mask!!)

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Why Don’t I Have Indian Friends?

I’m still trying to figure it out.

“You’re such a good girl,” one of my Indian-relatives told me, “you have a lot of sanskar, other Indian kids in America don’t have that.”

“Just because I speak Hindi and identify as Hindu doesn’t mean I have more sanskar than other Indian-American kids,” I replied.

Image from thebrowndesi.com

“No beta,” the relative continued, “you have more. Trust me we’ve seen it.” As my relative from India continued to ramble on about the difference between Indian-American kids and me, I thought of the many Indian-Americans I knew. They’re all different and cannot be placed in any mold. Although I defended them quickly, I noticed that I wasn’t friends with any of them.

“I think it has to do with distance,” my sister, Geetika Srivastava, told me years later as we sat in her apartment eating Gyros while Living with Yourself played in the background, “We didn’t have many Indian neighbors when we moved to Beavercreek.”

“Maybe,” I said while watching two Paul Rudds interact, “but we did have some when we moved to Centerville.”

“That’s true,” Geetika replied also watching the Rudds. As we idly watched, I thought about why I didn’t have many Indian-American friends. In fact, I only have one close Indian-American friend.

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Bookish Life of Nina Hill: Book Review

Nina and Nikki: the same. 

I must be honest: I feel personally attacked by this book written beautifully by Abbi Waxman. In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina lives a simple, yet anxious, life. Because her single-mom is a traveling photographer, Nina was raised by her wonderful nanny. Throughout the book, the reader becomes aware that Nina is very different from her mother. So, you spend some time wondering where our leading lady gets her bookish personality. Nina spends most of her time jamming on her planner, working in Knight’s Bookstore, petting her cat, then reading until her eyes cannot stay open.

Due to these characteristics, Nina is filled with fun facts and relevant pop cultural references. Other than books about every single subject, Nina enjoys films and television. She could give the Gilmore Girls a run for their money. However, when a lawyer enters the bookstore to tell her that the father-she-never-met-nor-knew-of died and named her in the will, Nina must re-fight her anxiety. Quickly, she inherits a very large family that comes with drama and stress. Unsure of how to handle herself, Nina must quickly learn to navigate her introvert personality with an adventurous group of people.

But, why do I feel personally attacked by this book? Please, stop here if you don’t want spoilers.

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Dear Hindi Film Industry

I am done supporting your badness.  

From your treatment to women and other minorities to your overly sensitive beings, I am disappointed in you. For years I used you as my solace; a place where I could hide from the sad reality of my anxious life. I spent hours on you, but I can no more. All I see is the death of creative minds and the crushing of souls. You let the Indian media further your agendas rather than focus on bringing the audience good content or the escape they desperately crave.

Because you’re in the movies, you get to decide people’s fates? Where does it say that those in the Hindi Film Industry are the most powerful? Where does it say that you get to dictate who lives and who achieves success? Where does it say that you must keep the industry a tight-knit almost insect filled community?

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Not My Fault You Can’t Say It Right

Srivastava = Shree-vas-ta-va

Respect. That’s all any of us want. Sure there is love, companionship, dogs and chocolate. But, respect is different from those things. It allows one to walk down the street without getting sexually harassed, threatened, and/or killed. Respect gives one confidence, joy, and happiness. Actually, fuck that. I think we all want to avoid being disrespected. When disrespected, we face our greatest obstacles. Usually, this type of disrespect comes from deeply rooted prejudice.

You think I would be used to the prejudice. Right? I write about it constantly and talk about my experiences with it. So, I must be immune to it. Want me to drop a truth bomb? Stop reading now if you don’t.

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Being A Public Defender, Not A Princess

Twas the eve before Princess Nikita started her job. She didn’t lay in her canopy bed that resided at the castle. Instead, she laid in a different one with her mind drifting to anxious thoughts. These thoughts kept her up at night like those monsters under her bed when she was five years old. Princess Nikita had not grown up with the burdens of fending for herself, let alone others. The King and Queen didn’t kick her out of the castle nor force her to change. Instead, Princess Nikita walked away from the castle’s alluring comfort. So, she wondered why she was so anxious.

On Monday, June 29th, your girl will officially start her job as Deputy State Public Defender! Yes, her big girl job. The one with healthcare benefits and a 401(K)-pension plan. And, the one you’ve all been waiting for me to start so I stop bugging you with these blog posts. Luckily, I am passionate about being a public defender. But I am still extremely nervous about starting this job. I had the fortunate experience of working at a clinic in my 3L year where I got to be a public defender for a school year. However, this isn’t the same. The responsibility is very different.

Princess Nikita

When choosing to move across the country, I knew that my entire life would change. For those who know me, I’ve been a princess-in-training my whole life. Other than the obvious ethnic minority woman struggles I’ve faced in a white-dominant workforce, I’m pretty privileged. In fact, I am so spoiled that one of my best friends violently threw a book at me titled, Thin Rich Pretty. Nope, she didn’t mean it as a compliment. It was a full-on “fuck you, bitch” book. (It was Lylan “Jessica” Nguyen who threw the book at me for those wondering. You’ve all have met her before on my blog. She’s kind of okay.)

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Friendships and Harassment: My Journey to Alamosa, Colorado

Starting a new chapter in your life can be overwhelming by itself. However, when surrounded by loved ones, it’s not as overwhelming. Naturally, I was very thrilled when my dad and two of our closet family friends decided to help me move to Alamosa, Colorado. My dad invited another one of his best friends who I’ve only met maybe twice in my life. For this blog post, I will call him Dumbass McCreeperson. (Don’t ask me how I come up with these names. I am just very talented.) Uncle Dumbass loves Colorado and claims to know the state very well. He also loves long-distance night time driving, which allowed us to get from Dayton, Ohio to Alamosa, Colorado in a mere 22 hours. (Yeah, I am still recovering from that drive.) However, I quickly discovered that Uncle Dumbass lived up to his fictional name within the first 5 minutes of speaking with him.

Uncle Dumbass stated that he loves me like a daughter. That, and his friendship with my dad, are the reasons he’s helping me move. At this point, you should not be wondering why my post is called Friendships and Harassment. Look at what I named this guy.  Buckle on up because this going to get hella creepy.

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Cis Gender Fragility

Harry Potter and the Scorn of the TERF

Beloved author J.K. Rowling learned that many people across the globe don’t agree with her opinions on transgender rights movement. Although we’ve embraced Harry Potter with open arms, we slammed the door closed on Rowling’s transphobia. Her transphobia didn’t suddenly appear. Throughout the years, she’s made small remarks about her transphobia. However, during Pride Month, Rowling showed the world her true feelings about transactivism. When I asked one of my friends if she’d seen Rowling’s Tweets, she asked if Rowling had been hacked. After telling her no, my friend told me that people should quietly educate themselves instead of openly showing their ignorance. I couldn’t agree more!

I first gave Rowling the benefit of the doubt. Like Luna Lovegood, Evanna Lynch, urged her fans, I chose not to hate on Rowling or “cancel her.”  Many stars associated with the Potter franchise came out against Rowling’s statements but didn’t villainize her. This refreshing approach made me believe that she would come around. However, instead of apologizing or educating herself, Rowling released an essay defending her statements. After I read it, I concluded that Rowling suffers from “cis gender fragility.” (I’ve might have made up this term, but it’s a pretty good way to describe her transphobia.)

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Curing White Guilt

Spoiler alert: there may be no cure.

Simply put, white guilt is the individual or collective guilt felt by some white people for harm resulting from racist treatment. With the current situation, many white people may be feeling an intense version of this guilt. While some may channel this guilt into productivity (such as educating and advocating), others may react defensively by claiming “All Lives Matter,” or “Blue Lives Matter.” Also, some may stay silent or neutral on the matter.

I’ve seen the two latter reactions of white guilt. And, heard of the former. Recently, however, a close friend of mine reached out when struggling to deal with her white guilt during Bar Exam prep. To be clear, she reached out to vent about not receiving help from other white people when dealing with her guilt. Not to make the movement about her whiteness.

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