Episode 1: Whose Kansas Is it Anyway?

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A family member waits for the arrival of the body of Srinivas Kuchibhotla from the US next to a garland and photograph in his residence on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. A
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The city of Olathe, Kansas, has been shaken since February, when a man gunned down two Indian immigrants in a bar there. Witnesses say the shooter yelled,  “Go back to your country!It was the first hate-crime killing after the 2016 presidential election.

WNYC’s Arun Venugopal traveled to Kansas to speak with members of the Indian community about how they’re dealing with the deaths, and with their changing status in America. Indian Americans enjoy the highest household income of any ethnic group in America. Their socioeconomic success and status as a ‘model minority’ has increasingly been reflected in American popular culture, as well as Bollywood films, and has played into arguments that America is a meritocracy, rather than one defined by white supremacy. But increasingly, members of the community argue that their wealth will not insulate them from racial bigotry.

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We hear from Professor Raj Bhala, a specialist in international law who is half-Indian and half-Scottish, along with his wife Kara, a Chinese-American woman from Malaysia. The couple is dreading July 1, when a law allowing the concealed carry of weapons on college campuses goes into effect. Kara Tan Bhala even wrote her U.S. Senators and congresswoman about concerns for her husband's safety. The congresswoman, the only one to reply, sent a defense of the Second Amendment. “It just made me feel as if my voice wasn't being heard in a very conservative state and that perhaps it was time to just take a break from the country and come back when things get better," Tan Bhala said. "I know things go in cycles so the pendulum has swung really one way to quite an extreme. We're waiting for it to swing slowly back.”

But for the first time since the couple arrived in 2003, they are seriously considering leaving the state — and the country. 

Episode Contributors:

Kai Wright

Arun Venugopal

Karen Frillmann

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