ASIAN VOICES

Hasan Minhaj Gets Real About 'American Dream Tax' Immigrants Pay For Better Life

"I noticed that my dad, when he’d see either microaggressions or full-on aggression happening in America, he sort of considers that the cost of entry."

Comedian Hasan Minhaj perfectly verbalized the tradeoff immigrants feel they need to make for a better life in the States.  

Minhaj, whose new Netflix show “Patriot Act” premiered on Sunday, spoke to PBS News Hour about how his father, an Indian immigrant, was willing to tolerate bigotry and racism because he was providing a better life for his family.

“The ‘American dream tax’ is this concept I came up with where, I noticed that my dad, when he’d see either microaggressions or full-on aggression happening in America, he sort of considers that the cost of entry,” Minhaj explained. “So you’re going to endure racism or bigotry or microaggressions, and if it doesn’t kill you, then it’s worth it.”

The comedian explained that his father was so grateful to be in the U.S. that “he’s willing to go through whatever it takes to survive and be successful here.” But Minhaj himself, a child of immigrants, has the “audacity of equality.” 

Minhaj has spoken in the past about this tradeoff his father believed he needed to make ― in fact, it was a focus in his “Homecoming King” special. During the routine, Minhaj had described a horrifying incident following the 9/11 attacks in which a someone vandalized his family’s car. 

“My dad’s in the middle of the road, sweeping glass out of the road like he works at a hate-crime barbershop,” Minhaj says. 

He recalled how his father responded to the incident, saying, “These things happen, and these things will continue to happen; that’s the price we pay for being here.”  

However Minhaj believes in pushing for civil rights. After all, as the comedian said to Bust Magazine in 2017, “Fighting for equality is the most American thing you can do.” 

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