Brown Girls for Black Lives by Jeevet Kaur and Devanshi Desai
Coming from a life of privilege and safety, being complacent in the “model minority” myth, we, two members of the South Asian community, strongly believe it is time to stand up for our black brothers and sisters as they have been doing for us for years. During the civil rights movement, African American activists helped end racist immigration laws that only allowed a small number of people from South Asian nations to immigrate every year. Without them, our parents would not have been able to immigrate to America, but now when their rights and lives are being threatened so many South Asians are deciding to look away. It is not because they are inherently bad people, but instead because of anti-black racism that is deeply embedded into South Asian communities. Anti-black racism, which stems from white colonialism, is the connection between fair skin and positive attributes, attractiveness, intelligence, beauty, etc. and dark skin and negative attributes. This has become so common in South Asian communities that it has become normalized. Unfortunately, normalization of anti-blackness in South-Asian communities has become desensitized through the Bollywood industry. One example is the backlash Bollywood actors face when supposedly supporting the BLM movement, but simultaneously supporting skin-lightening creams. For example, Priyanka Chopra, who supposedly protests for black rights also frequently promotes skin lightening creams. Oftentimes these racist ideologies also can take forms in; derogatory slurs, cultural appropriation, and or blackface. Additionally, much of the Indian community is also willing to disregard that Gandhi was not only racist, but also supportive of a Hindu patriarchal supremacist caste system, rather than acknowledging this as an issue that further pushes us back in society and further from self-growth.
This kind of outlook on colorism in South Asian families drastically harms our black brothers and sisters and encourages ongoing subconscious racism in brown families. As mentioned before, our communities are so complacent in the model minority myth, which ultimately turns POC against one another. Many Asian families believe because we’ve worked our way to fight negative stereotypes about our intelligence and establish us as the success story, other people of color should be able to do the same. We compare our situations to those of Black families, while completely disregarding the fact the deep-rooted systemic oppression is entirely different. The system works to harm those of people of color, minus the “model minority”. If you’re a teenager growing up in these South Asian families, know that it is our responsibility as the new Indian generation, one brought up in a world with more opportunities, diversity, and open mindedness to have the difficult conversations over this internalized racism our parents partake in. If we stay silent in our South-Asian households during ongoing comments criticizing the riots and bashing the Black Lives Matter Movement, but post black squares on our instagrams, we are hypocrites. As two girls who have grown up in these communities, we understand the difficulty behind addressing close minded families. Start with the small conversations; explain why we need to stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters. Educate, don’t condescend. Most importantly, never stop speaking up. Our voice as POC in America is our strongest asset. #browngirlsforblacklives #southasiansforblacklives
- Devanshi Desai and Jeevet Kaur