Priyanka Chopra is opening up about the racism she faced as a teen the United States in an attempt to elicit change.
“I was treated differently because I’m brown,” Chopra told the Associated Press in an interview published last week. “I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade. I was called ‘Brownie,’ ‘Curry,’ [told to] ‘go back on the elephant you came on,’ and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”
The Bollywood star and former Miss World, who married husband Nick Jonas in December, was born in the state of Bihar in India. But she moved to the United States when she was 13 to live with her aunt and attended high schools in Massachusetts, Iowa and Queens, New York, according to People.
The “Quantico” star told the AP that the reason she’s speaking out is because she believes racial bias is a learned behavior.
“The way we treat people differently comes from cultural subliminal messaging that has happened over eons,” the 36-year-old actress said, noting that she wants to speak out in order to open people’s eyes to the problem.
She added, “I do want to create a world for my future kids where they don’t have to think about diversity, where they’re not talking about it because it’s normal.”
Although the bullying she endured was devastating, she said she got through it due to the “innate sense of self” instilled in her from her parents and upbringing.
“I really decided that I’m not going to feel like that anymore, I’m not going to allow anyone to feel like that anymore,” she told the AP.
Chopra is aware that the problem is complex. But the actress, who describes herself as a “glass half-full kind of girl,” says she sees “positive signs around the world” that society is slowly shifting its views on racism. She says she’s simply trying to do her part by being transparent about her experiences.
“I think it’s up to us to create that environment for the next generation,” she said.