Lahari Rao is a quirky, opinionated, & curious gal who vowed on her 18th birthday, that her Indian-American confusion would be remedied in her adulthood if she pretended she was a brown Carrie Bradshaw. Instead, Lahari found herself in the following situations: negotiating with her dad the number of years she could date on her own before he put her profile in a Telugu marriage bureau site, being the only South Asian person in a 700-person Cheerios factory in rural Georgia, and frantically pulling beach towels to cover her body to avoid getting ‘even darker,’ while her friends embraced the sun. When she wanted to talk about being Indian socially, she was met with a lot of enthusiasm about butter chicken, arranged marriage, and Slumdog Millionaire (“Jai Ho!”) At 30, she decided enough was enough—she would awaken from her denial, embrace her identity, and dive deeper in its psychology.
Now, in this podcast, Lahari talks with every day, badass brown women about topics that were often taboo at the South Asian-American dinner table. Here is a community obsessed with the question: What would life look like if we freed ourselves from the pressures of American assimilation and South Asian stigma, to be our best, most authentic selves?
#18 Colors of South Asian Inclusion with Hanifa Abdul Hameed (Colors of Honey)
Hanifa Abdul Hameed, known as Colors of Honey, rose to popularity in 2020 when her digital art went viral. You may recognize her from the "Kamala Aunty for VP" sweatshirts sold by Meena Harris on Phenomenal. Lahari talks to Hanifa about who she is behind her art: the uprise of digital art/illustrations, Hanifa's upbringing, identifying with culture and/or religion, negative and positive reactions, exploring the division in South Asian society, our first times learning about caste, and the pressure to represent all of the South Asian and American experience.Follow us on @downtobrown_ on Instagram!
#17: Putting the "I" in Fertility & Vaginismus
Lahari talks to Dr. Gaya Murugappan, MD, at Stanford Hospital, about fertility, sex, and vaginismus. We start with egg freezing is and the scientific process, comparisons to previous generations, sex vs. reproduction. and the privilege of affording newer fertility treatments. The second half of the conversation brings us to raising awareness on vaginismus, specifically the secrecy, hurt, and shame associated with it. We go into how it happens, how to support someone who has it, what treatments are available, and why we should care about this - whether or not you identify as a woman. Follow us at @downtobrown_
#16: How to be a Bad Indian Daughter
Shanehi Shah, social impact strategist, and Lahari talk about being a Bad Indian Daughter. What do we mean by that? The concept of becoming your true self after examining and challenging internalized messages of what "good" looks like growing up as South Asian women. In addition, we cover: guilt and conflict, the pain of letting go, "cautionary tales" about women we should refrain from identifying as, not wanting kids, conversations about race with parents, and conflict avoidance and obedience.Follow the podcast on @downtobrown_
#15 Keepin' it moving: Navigating ups, downs, & the in-betweens
Lahari sits down with Richa Shukla Moorjani, actress, dancer & activist best known for her role of "Kamala" on Netflix's Never Have I Ever. They cover Richa's journey pursuing acting, especially as she navigates success, failure, and, most importantly, the times in between. We dive into the dualities she has to balance between her Indian and American community, both in the support she receives and the pressure she feels from expectations, criticism, etc. Plus, she talks about her passion for environmental and animal activism. Richa is a great example of how to focus on what you can do/control, and doing the best you can so that the rest can fall into place - you won't want to miss this conversation!Follow us on IG: @downtobrown_
#14 This didn't happen overnight: Anti-Asian violence today & our collective anti-racist journey
Heejin (Irene) Koo, of the changemaker platform Revolutionnaire, and Lahari talk about what the Asian-American community is experiencing with increased violence and hate in the recent year. Irene helps us understand the history leading up to today, why elderly Asian-Americans are being targeted, and what it's like to process this as a Korean-American in NYC.Follow us at downtobrown_ for more updates.
#13 What do animal liberation and human rights have in common?
Priya Sawhney is a co-founder of the global animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). Her investigatory work has been featured in The New York Times and Washington Post, and has reached tens of millions via social media.Since she first was exposed to animal conditions in Punjab and after immigrating to the US, Priya has passionately advocated to liberate animals from abuse and violence. We talk about how understanding animal liberation only helps us better understand the fundamentals of human liberation - that no body is better than the other. (Especially in connection with the Black Lives Matter movement). On top of that, she is an advocate for women to have the choice to be who they are, daring to be the bold, courageous, and badass Priya that she is.Follow us on Instagram at @downtobrown_
I love this podcast— as an Indian American, I find the story telling and information so on point!
Honest, open, and funny
I love Down to Brown! It’s a really thoughtful look into so many different aspects of our society I’d never really thought about. Highly recommend if you love humor and witty intellect !!!