With the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the video surfacing Amy Cooper, it’s important we as South Asians step back and understand the role we take in perpetuating and even normalizing racism. While few may fail to understand just how the rampant anti blackness in South Asia might lead to institutionalized racism in America, our role in all of it is undeniable.
Anti-blackness has always played a heavy role in the South Asian community. From outright racism to colourism to slurs, most South Asians have never failed to show their unveiled prejudice. Which is why many agree POC solidarity isn’t real. For a community that struggles with colourism, racism, Islamophobia, discrimination from those higher to us in the system, we struggle to empathize or even be kind to our black brothers and sisters.
We look at them as our inferiors. We say the n-word, knowing it has a brutal historical context behind it so we look “cool”. We take pride in our skin tone and feel bad for people who look darker than us. We take parts of their culture and make it ours. We think all our struggles are the same.
Anti-blackness in the South Asian community has existed since forever. It is easy to blame on the British and call racism, “a colonialism hangover” when colourism, perpetuated by racism, has existed even during the times of our kings.
We aspire to be fairer, to be better than our black brothers and sisters, to get on the good side of white people and remain the model minority so many of us persevere in. But the time for that has gone. It is important to know more than ever about our place in the grand scheme of things and just how we’re hurting the black community.
It is important to have uncomfortable conversations with our friends and family. It is only surprising if you’re South Asian and don’t know anybody racist. Force uncomfortable conversations. Explain to your family just why they can’t say what they always say and why they shouldn’t. Tell them why being colourist and racist is unacceptable. Talking to your parents can be hard but you can start with your siblings. Conversations like these can always be uncomfortable, they can always be unsettling but always be willing to risk comfort (not your safety!).
Another thing to recognise is our privilege. No matter what we think, we all do hold a certain amount of privilege over someone else. Whether it’s our gender, our race, our economic status, the language we speak in. As non Black people we do hold privilege over the black community no matter how hard we try to deny it’s existence and pretend it doesn’t exist. Use it to speak up and promote black voices.
Another important thing that you need to do is educate yourself. The internet is a great resource and with social media, it is so much more easier to reach out to people and unlearn biases. In this digital age, there is almost no excuse to be ignorant. Here is an entire Google Drive link created by a black trans person with hundreds of resources on Black History and Black Empowerment.
The need to know better and learn better is here. We have the potential to do better and we should. We must use our privilege to uplift black voices and end this vicious cycle. We must learn from the mistakes of our parents and grandparents. We must do better.