Immigrant Families: A Story by Hasan Minhaj

By Natasha Karunaratne

Comedian, actor, and writer, Hasan Minhaj has earned his way to the spotlight, as senior political correspondent on the ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,’ as host of the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and for his critically acclaimed one man show, ‘Homecoming King.’

On The Moth, Hasan retells one of his most famous stories of how he came to meet his secret 5 year old sister. Listen to him tell his story, “Always Her Hasan-Bhai,” click here.

 

Reflection questions

  1. What do you think Minhaj wants his audiences to know about his life and the life of immigrant families like his own from the story he told? Is he just hoping to get a laugh or is there something deeper that he is hoping to convey? If so, what is it?
  2. As a first generation Indian-American – the child of Indian immigrants – Hasan grew up as the only brown kid in his all white neighborhood in Davis, California. What impact might this have had on Hasan and his father’s sense of belonging in the town?
  3. Based on his story, Hasan remembers being the only brown kid at school while his father was the only brown guy at work. He says he was constantly seeking the approval of his peers. Why might it be important for migrants and the children of migrants to get the approval of their peers? What pressure might that put on them? How might it influence the choices that they make?
  4. While Hasan’s parents immigrated to America shortly prior to his birth, Hasan’s mother returned to India to complete medical school. Therefore, for the first eight years of his life, Hasan grew up solely with his father – “just two brown dudes trying to make it in America.” Hasan recounts he was “waiting for [his] mom to come home so [they] can finally be a family again.” Why might Hasan’s family have made these decisions – to migrate before his birth and to have his mom finish medical school in India?
  5. Hasan’s makes a generalization about immigrant families’ from his personal experience. He claims that immigrant families have a tendency to keep secrets: “if you know anything about immigrants they love secrets. They love bottling them up deep down inside of them and then unleashing them on you years later when its no longer relevant.” While Hasan uses that line to get a laugh, what point is he trying to make about families like his own? What is Hasan trying to tell us about immigrant families? Why might some immigrant families keep secrets? What is it about their experiences that might make people want to keep secrets, even from members of their own families?