As a person of Pakistani heritage, I am well acquainted with the deep seated hatred that exists between cultural groups in the South Asian region. Since we are not a self reflective sort of people, we are quick to point out when everyone else’s behaviour is racially motivated. Especially those white people’s.
Frequently you hear brown people of the older generation lament the cause the common brown man. How often have you heard the old “Oh you’ll never get a job here, they’re all racist! They prefer to hire their own kind. A brown man can’t compete with a white man of equal qualification”. Because favoritism in the employment market in South Asian countries is unheard of.
I find it amazing to hear people complaining about discrimination when they’re in good jobs and haven’t really experienced a whole lot of it. It’s particularly amazing for me when they themselves discriminate against other people, even those from their own country of origin. Muhajirs hate Punjabis who hate Sindhis and nobody really likes the Baluchis.
So, let’s talk about interracial relations and the part my fellow brown people play in them.
Racism is not the name given to the exclusionary and prejudiced practices observed by those with less melanin in their system. Racism is the term given to discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, heritage and place of origin and is exercised by all groups of people in the World. That includes brown people, i.e. those with more melanin in their system.
Perhaps some of my brown brothers and sisters have a difficult time realising this very serious flaw in their mentality. Remember that brown people cannot be liable for racist acts, we’ve always been oppressed. Belittling people’s socio economic status, colour, religion and well, just about every other thing doesn’t make you a racist.
Ironically though, the more similar the cultures, the greater the animosity.
I’m Pakistani. We don’t like Indians, Afghans, Turks, other Pakistanis (because I’m a Muhajir) like Punjabis or Biharis. If you’re Bangladeshi, forget about it! We will make fun of you till our sides have torn from the pain of laughter. Its just how I grew up. Luckily, I only lived in Pakistan for 3 short years. Had I grown up there, I’d probably harbour the same prejudices. Possibly the jokes are just for humour. My family don’t actually hate Indians or Bangladeshis but there remains a lot of prejudice against other cultural groups within Pakistan. Such and such did this, oh well, its because they’re Bihari you see, they’re all like that. Don’t marry into them. Etc.
The flip side to the racism debate is that a lot of Muslims from South Asian countries are keen to migrate. You never hear them talking about migrating to a Muslim country. Everyone wants to go to America, Canada, England or Australia. Interestingly, these countries provide the starkest contrast to their homes, yet these are the places they feel will give their children the tools they need to survive in life.
Understand this position: “My own home is not good enough so I’m going to beg, borrow and steal to come and live in yours but all the while I’m going to bitch about how hard life is in your side of the world”. Sorry but that doesn’t sit all too well with me.
Further, if you want to marry into a culture other than your own magnificent one be prepared for a lot of angst. Why? Because we are ethnocentric and our culture is the best. That’s why. Inter-racial marriages are for fools who don’t know their place in society. Imagine, they will have MIXED children. When my parents sit back and lament over the latest interracial marriage, they forget the good things their faith teaches them. The religious element of integrity that protects them from gossip goes completely out the window. They are however, very quick to discourage behaviours or choices due to fear of social repercussions from a culture with no claim on the future.
Nationalism is strong wherever economies are weak.
More reasons why I’m glad I didn’t grow up in Pakistan. Now that I’m working pro actively to blur the distinctions between ethnicities in Australia, National Pride bugs me. I’ve never been a nationalistic person. I’ve lived in many different parts of the world and the only thing I’ve come to identify myself with is being Muslim. If you take that away from me, I’m nothing. It’s all pretty simple to me. I’ve also felt the limitations of Nationalism. Had I found something brilliant in the culture I’ve inherited I probably would’ve stuck to it.
So I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but brown people, you’re just as racist as that white kid who calls you names. You’re just not in a position to demonstrate it.