Being South Asian and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

First thing’s first, if you’re reading this I know you might not read all the way until the end and that’s on you, but I’m going to include the important info at the top – there’s no excuse, you’ll see the links – sign them!

Petitions to sign and where you can donate!

Just to note these aren’t all the petitions you can sign, do your research, there are waaay more. I’ve signed and donated to LOADS!: 

#BlackLivesMatter

#JusticeForGeorgeFloyd

#JusticeForShukriAdbi

#JusticeForBreonnaTaylor

#JusticeForAhmaudArbery

#JusticeForTonyMcDade

Julius Jones is innocent!

A bit of me…

I’m going to start off with some of my personal views. 

Let’s start with ‘all lives matter,’ while a lot of you will have heard many ideologies behind ‘all lives matter’ my personal favourite was from Micheal Che, the comedian. 

Che said it would be like “if your wife came up to you and was like ‘do you love me?’ and you were like ‘baby, I love everybody!” – and I think that’s the best comparison I’ve heard so far because it’s a personal example people will take more emotion from it and hopefully this means they’ll understand how redundant ‘all lives matter’ is.

Talking of lives that matter… ALL LIVES CAN’T MATTER UNTIL BLACK LIVES MATTER! I’ve grown up around mainly Black and Indian people and while I’m so grateful for being brought up in such a multi-cultural environment, I’m also quite mad that I haven’t taken it upon myself to learn about any type of history aside from the history I was taught at school… and we all know how bias the curriculum is. 

But, recently I have educated myself and I have taken it upon myself to learn what isn’t taught to us in school.

One of the many things I learnt that I was shocked by was up until 2015 descendants of slave owners were paid taxpayers money for the “loss of their property” when slavery was “abolished” (allegedly) in 1833. 

On 6th June, I went to the BLM protest in Leicester and we kneeled for 9 minutes (or 8 minutes 46 seconds) and all I could think about the whole time is HOW?! How can that dirty fed kneel on George Floyd’s neck for that long despite him calling out for his mum, despite him being vocal about hurting and despite saying ‘I CAN’T BREATHE.’

It made me sick, it still makes me sick and then I came across the video of his beautiful little girl on social media who no longer has her dad around. She no longer has her dad to hold her when she’s sad, pick her up when she’s feeling down, walk her down the aisle, let her know everything is going to be okay if she’s ever feeling some type of way or do any of the daddy-daughter things she would’ve done if he wasn’t MURDERED.

Going back to the comedian Michael Che, he asked, why Black people are expected to get over things so fast? For example, when slavery is ever brought up in conversation, why do people feel entitled to say that ‘it happened over 400 years ago so why is it being bought up now?… but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this time next year there are 50+ articles from tabloid media outlets marking a year since the statue of Edward Colston (who was a fuck off slave trader in the 17th Century) in Bristol was pulled down and thrown into the river by “aNgRy PrOtEsTeRs.” Fucking ridiculous. 

I remember telling my best friend that tabloids and broadsheet media are going to have a field day blaming a “potential second COVID spike” on the protests and magically forget about the people visiting the beach and gathering at the park… and that’s exactly what they did!

Colourism within the South Asian community

…is very common. 

I shared an Instagram Story for people to let me know if they’d faced any negative comments from their loved ones about the complexion of their skin and I found it was way more common than I thought. 

Here are just some of the examples I received:

  • “They make jokes about sitting in the sun for too long.”
  • “It can be a daily struggle for me.”
  • “My masi (aunt) used to tell my mum ‘you’ve been travelling to Africa so much you’ve made your daughter dark.”
  • “Light clothing won’t suit me because I’m too dark, but it will suit my lighter-skinned sisters.”
  • “…always compared with my sister, she was always told how much darker she was than me.”

I have also experienced colourism from some of my family members – I’ve been told that I’m too dark, I should stop spending too much time in the sun and I should use chana na lot (chickpea flour) to make my skin fairer. However, me being me, as I’ve grown up I’ve hit them with “the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” word to Pac.

There are many products within the Asian community that help lighten your skin complexion too, it’s drilled into our heads from a very young age that beauty is associated with fair skin. In many Bollywood movies, many of the extras are white. And in the Indian fashion and beauty industry white or super lightskinned models are used to advertise.

We’re literally taught, from young, that darkness is BAD.

An important bit about our history…

  • The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement – a movement long-fought for by African-Americans to end legalised racial discrimination, disfranchisement and racial segregation.
  • Allegedly the most significant effect of the Civil Rights Movement was the passage of The Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act was put in place to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth or residence. While this sounds great, this law established a new preference system based on professional status and family… Asian immigrants were only allowed in the country if they had high education levels/special skills.

Bottom line, if it wasn’t the decades-long fight for the Civil Rights Movement by African-Americans, the Immigration and Nationality Act wouldn’t have passed and Asian immigrants wouldn’t have been allowed to move into the US – even if that was based solely on their professional status and/or family. 

Even now in the US, South Asians are considered a “model minority,” they’re considered the “good” or “nice” minority.

Black people fought for the Civil Rights that we enjoy. But, what does that have to do with us South Asians right? We have our own problems right? We’re also minorities, right? We’re oppressed too right?

South Asians for Black Lives!

Do you not know how to approach this movement? Well, here’s a mini self-help guide:

EDUCATE YOURSELF

I educated myself on the Black Lives Matter movement. I learnt what it means to be anti-black. I researched the Civil Rights Movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. And I learnt what privilege I had and what ‘white privilege’ is too. 

Take it upon yourself to self-educate and then, educate others around you.

IT STARTS AT HOME

That’s literally it. 

You know you’ve heard your mum, dad, grandma, grandpops, aunty, uncle or cousin say something that didn’t sit right with you, you’ve heard them make a comment that made you think ‘that’s not okay to say…’ Right? So, do something about it. CALL. THEM. TF. OUT.

Here’s your chance to use the stuff you learnt in step one – educate them, they need it most. 

You need to be willing to call them out – in this case, I do think silence is compliance. Also, it’s a great way to make them understand racial inequality and explain how bad it can get e.g. police brutality. Whether that be showing them the horrific videos you’ve seen on Twitter, or the many names you’ve seen listed on Instagram pics of Black people who have been murdered at the hands of the pigs. 

DON’T BE AFRAID

It’s really important to challenge racist comments that come from family members, friends and colleagues. While they’ll be the hardest to tackle, it’s really important that you do. 

When you hear someone in your family use that “kala/kali” term in a derogatory way, FUCKING CALL THEM TF OUT. Using the word “kala” to talk about a Black person is racist. 

If you hear your friend use the n-word when rapping along to a song, BOY IF YOU DON’T CALL THEM OUT – it is ANTI-BLACK.

When you hear someone at work use harmful Black stereotypes such as the idea that a Black guy who wears a hoodie is a drug dealer or a Black woman who speaks her mind is aggressive – CALL THEM OUT, EMBARRASS THEM – it’s racist! These stereotypes have been enforced by systematic oppression and the shitty media and it continues to this day. 

WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE

You’ve got to want to make a change and educate those around you to help the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m assuming if you’ve read until now then you are willing.

BE PERSISTENT

Don’t stop supporting the movement. 

BLACK LIVES MATTER TODAY, TOMORROW AND ALWAYS. 

While there have been small changes such as… the police offer who murdered George Floyd being charged with 2nd-degree murder and the three accomplices being charged too and the Mayor of Manchester saying that he will “look into the case” of 12-year-old Shukri Abdi who was murdered and found in River Irwell in June 2019. It doesn’t mean that we can rest. 

These changes have happened after protests took place all over the world, petitions were signed, donations were made, emails and letters were sent to authorities and many people on social media (and real-life of course) stood in solidarity. 

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We cannot rest, we have to keep this momentum going. We’re all moving in the same direction. 

We need change and we need to make the world a better place for future generations to come.