Dear South Asians,
We have a problem in our community, that’s not discussed anywhere near enough.
The south Asian diaspora have remained largely homogeneous after immigrating to western countries, due to facing racism at the hands of our white hosts. I have never known my parents, their friends and other members of our community of their generation to have any black friends outside of the workplace, never made any effort to invite them to community gatherings or attempt to organise and form bonds between our two communities. However “liberal” our thinking may be, our community continues to perpetuate racism towards the black community because in the hierarchy of the society we entered, “at least we weren’t at the very bottom”. This sort of thinking has allowed us to uphold the structures that work not just against the black community but ourselves too.
Our struggles do certainly differ, but they also interlink. In England, it is more true than anywhere else, when the National Front were fighting us in the street they did not care if we were black or brown, they cared that we were non-white! This is one of many instances our community would do well to remember. We cannot turn a blind eye to the injustices the black community faces, because to some degree we too have faced them and it does not serve us well to forget that. In turn we need to unify, show solidarity and remember that we are brothers and sisters in a joint fight against white supremacy. Showing support for the black community in ways they deem important, is crucial to our mutual end goals.
Anti-blackness continues to this day. In the UK, black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth, black people have a lower life expectancy, are more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act, have twice the unemployment rate of white people, are 50% more likely to be the victim of a crime. Black men are ten times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and a third of all deaths in police custody are black people.
Within our own communities, we often perpetuate unfair stereotypes of black people and belief that blackness is negative. We often promote the idea that “fair skin” is much more desirable, and marrying a black person for many people in our community is still taboo. Despite benefitting in this country from the struggles for liberation that black people have made, we do not internally as a community have an anti-racist view of blackness.
This letter is especially for the middle class South Asians, because for some reason we believe we have been afforded the luxury of social mobility due to our status as lawyer or doctor. If this is the lie you choose to believe then I would urge you to reassess the reality of the world that surrounds you. We are not as unfortunate as our black brothers and sisters to share all of the same prejudices placed upon them by white society, which has afforded us a better level of comfort within our shared uncomfortable surroundings. However, without dismantling the entire structure of white supremacy, us South Asians will never have an equal place in this society until the black community gets theirs.
So, let’s make a pledge to:
- speak up when we see injustice happening, not just blatant racism but microaggressions that we too are well familiar with.
- Let’s begin to view ourselves as a part of a unified community, so as we are going about our day, we do not contribute to the discrimination against our black brothers and sisters.
- We should use the power of our pocket to empower black businesses and de-invest from large corporations that serve and perpetuate white supremacy.
- Let’s donate to help organisations that are fighting for equality.
- Let’s educate ourselves and others so we can fully understand the whole context of the structures that we live under. There are no shortages of reading lists floating around social media at the moment, however I have added a few things under this letter to help you make a start in the right direction.
I am upset, disappointed and frustrated. But I am hopeful,
Natives by Akala
Ain’t no black in the Union Jack by Paul Gilroy
The good immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
(free online pan African school)
Black visions is an organisation based in Minnesota dedicated to Black liberation.
Reclaim the block has been spearheading the movement of community led safety programs and the defunding of police in Minneapolis.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is America’s largest and oldest civil rights organisation.
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