Please Don’t Ask Me to Help You Put on a Sari

My Brownness does not mean I have the knowledge you seek

Mita Mallick
ZORA

--

Illustration: Fei Fei

“Can you help me put on a sari? I have an Indian wedding I am attending next weekend!”

That was at least the second time during my career I was asked that question. In both instances, I vaguely knew the person. In both instances, they randomly approached me at work.

There was the time I was in the sandwich line trying to decide between a tuna melt or an egg salad wrap. And then another time, I was walking down the hall, headed to a meeting. I believe there may have been a third time. I have likely blocked that encounter from my memory.

And so why is it that this randomly happens to me? Is it because I have a friendly face? Is it because they had seen me wear a sari before? Or is it because I am Brown?

For the record, I have never worn a sari to work. Because I actually don’t know how to put on a sari.

She asked me to help her put on a sari. So what?

It’s the “so what?” that gets me. It has been part of the narrative of my experience growing up Brown in this country. Of a whole host of things people have asked me and continue to ask me, the list includes:

--

--

Mita Mallick
ZORA
Writer for

Corporate Change Maker. Passionate about creating inclusive workplaces and communities. And a Super Mom.