Raj Tawney is an American essayist and journalist based in New York. Raised in a multiracial household by an Indian father and an Italian/Puerto Rican American mother, his exposure to race, culture, and class has uniquely impacted his viewpoint. He has contributed essays to New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, O, the Oprah Magazine, Variety, LA Weekly, F(r)iction, Broad Street Review, Entropy Magazine, L.A. TACO and others. He’s hosted on TV for Zee North America, Namaste America and Public Television; and live events for Gold Coast International Film Festival, North Fork TV Festival, The Mudra Foundation and at numerous universities and cinemas. Currently working on a memoir about multiracial/multiethnic Americans, Raj is a proud husband, and father of two rescue parrots and one rescue puppy.
I interviewed Raj as a child of Sandwich Parents, who brought them up with a wide range of ethnic and cultural experiences. This seems to have brought out an authentic curiosity about the world and an in-depth approach to processing what he sees, resulting in wonderfully written observations about many topics including history, food like Indian buffet, sports, movies, current events, and how the health of his father affects him.
Be warned ahead of time! He’s a journalist and kept asking ME questions! So you’ll learn more about me, my lived experience, and my parenting from this discussion than normal! Then his wife, Michelle, joined us halfway through the conversation and we had great fun razzing Raj together.
We talked about how:
- his parents cultivated his curiosity for and tolerance of cultural differences.
- our generation may think more about parenting than our parents, who were just figuring things out along the way.
- he used to wish that he and his brother were named Mick and Scott and that he looked like Ashton Kutcher.
- his parents always made sure that there was a lot of love.
- the “hippie” in his dad didn’t strictly enforce the need to have to be a certain way.
- he sided with his mother as a child, but developed a great relationship with his father as an adult.
- his wife’s appreciation of his culture helped him see his own background as a big part of who he is.
- growing up in a white environment impacts how we may run away from our home culture.
- we question our identity and where we fit in.
- our parents had their own plights and their own journeys, especially as immigrants!
- it took a long time for him to find himself pursuing his creative dreams, while his friends graduated and became doctors right away with their structured life.
- in the past, at family functions, he always felt like they were the family that didn’t have it together, but now, he is very happy about his long winding road.
- you can’t always predict how your kids will grow up.
- how as a parent, all you want to know is that you did an okay job and that your kids appreciate you and that your kids will be all right.
Growing up is hard! Life screws you up no matter what you do!
I really enjoyed this conversation with Raj and Michelle and I hope you do too. His final message: It’s all about love being at the core!