I'm sure this guy is being talked about all over the press, on the internet, and especially on blogs, but as a fellow Indian American, it's my turn. People tend to focus on this seemingly nice guy's singing abilities and on how deserving he is to still be on the show. His singing talent is arguable. I'm no expert, but I find him to have a nice smooth voice and he stays on tune quite well, but he just doesn't have the stage presence to be the winner of American Idol. He totally reminds me of Michael Jackson and at least some girls love him. But his significance in pop culture is more important to his ethnic group than it is to mainstream Americans.
Sanjaya is the first Indian guy in the U.S. that has become a household name since Mahatma Gandhi. It's sad but true in a way, yet it gives me hope. He is showing that "a brown guy" can be respected and considered just like any other American. I was growing tired of the dichotomy of stereotypes that we were associated with. On one hand, Indians are among the most educated and wealthiest of ethnicities, yet on TV, we're usually portrayed as soft bumbling idiots who can only speak English with a heavy Indian accent. This never made sense to me.
Much to my delight, while I was watching Saturday Night Live last Saturday, one of their regular cast members was portraying Sanjaya, just like anybody else would be mimicked. When was the last time you saw a real Indian person being portrayed on a major American television show? I cannot remember and I'm guessing you can't either.
Regardless of possible voter manipulation that has kept Sanjaya on the show, perhaps America has learned a lesson. His ethnicity in fact seems almost transparent as we seem to have collectively learned that those of Indian ethnicity are just like whites, Latinos, or African Americans. We're also a part of the fabric of American culture. Some of us sing, some of us speak perfect English, some of us make girls cry, but all of us Indian-Americans deserve to be considered as part of the mainstream.