Black Lives Matter: keeping Indians as a model minority is not helping


But what about the brown silence? Just as people are told to recognize their white privilege, calls are getting louder for the Diasporas of South Asia, particularly Indians, in the UK, the United States, and Canada to verify their brown privilege and speak against anti-black racism.

This tension has arisen in part because some Asian groups continue to be considered "model minorities", celebrated for achieving higher levels of socioeconomic success than others, often even the white majority. It is an old tactic that has been shown to do more harm than good, but is still in use.

The problem with the practice is that it pits ethnic minority groups, which might otherwise be allies, against each other. It perpetuates stereotypes within and outside the group, and worse, it gives governments, companies and institutions of power a mask for their own systemic racism. It completely ignores the fact that one minority group may face very different challenges or levels of racism than another.

Black people, on the other hand, earn less than most other groups after graduation, reach the lowest levels in elementary and secondary school, and are three times more likely to be arrested than white people. Similar trends have been observed in the United States and Canada.

There are many ways to digest this type of data. Some see it as a clear signal that more needs to be done to address structural racism and close the gap, but all too often, it is used to congratulate those who have been successful and embarrass those who have not.

Take for example the Cabinet of Ministers of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, who has touted as the most diverse in the history of the country. But really, a glance at her makeup shows that it is simply the most Indian Cabinet, with three ministers of Indian descent.

The tension that was created came to the fore in parliament earlier this month, when Interior Minister Priti Patel, who has Indian origins, dismissed black opposition MP Florence Eshalomi, who was complaining that the conservative government ruler did not take structural racism seriously.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, left, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson aboard a security ship in the port of Southampton on December 2, 2019.

Patel's response was defensive and aggressive, arguing that she, too, had suffered racism, so she "will not be lecturing" on the subject. It was his way of saying that, having been a victim of racism, he could not ignore the problems faced by black Britons.

Joan Doe, a London black high school teacher, said she found Patel's response frustrating. He also said the recent appointment of Munira Mirza's prime minister to head another diversity review in the country was problematic.

Doe says his problem is not so much that Mirza is of Pakistani origin, rather than known to argue that structural racism does not exist, as he has written in several articles for the right-wing publication Spiked.

"They think they can put a brown face on the problem and it will go away. And it's always a brown face that is neither too dark nor too light, so they can say they represent minority ethnic groups," Doe told CNN.

She said there was a problem in grouping all ethnic minorities in terms like BAME (Black, Asian and Minority) and POC (People of Color).

"We all come together, and that just says that because you're not white, everyone should have similar experiences, and therefore should have similar results, which is completely untrue," Doe said.

United Kingdom: "POC silence is violence"

It should also be noted that in the United Kingdom, the experiences of South Asians are varied, and just as not all white people have led lives of privilege, neither have all brown people. Where Indians, on average, perform well financially and in education, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have not enjoyed the same socio-economic mobilization, overall, and many have suffered the brunt of a wave of Islamophobia that swept the world after the 9/11 attacks. And even within ethnic groups, there are stories so diverse and different backgrounds that so many people just don't fit the picture the data paints.

But some in these privileged diasporas are beginning to recognize them, and young people in South Asia are beginning to talk about them. Uncomfortable discussions are taking place on issues like the hierarchy of racism, and just as people are now discussing how national heroes, such as Winston Churchill in the UK, had deeply racist views, the Indian diasporas now recognize racism Mahatma Gandhi's anti-black, revealed in Some of his writings during his time in South Africa.

Jaskaran Sahota, a 34-year-old advertising executive and hobbyist comedian, attended the Black Lives Matter protests in London. She carries a sign saying "Silence POC is violence" and is part of a movement of South British Asians who are trying to change racist attitudes within their communities, particularly among the older generation.

She points out how Indians often attribute their success to simply working hard, and while there may be some truth to that, few stop to consider that other groups may also be working hard and only facing other structural barriers.

Jaskaran Sahota from London says Indians in the country must face

He regrets the way that Indians have been able to find social mobility, but they often do not help elevate other minority groups in the same way.

"Unfortunately, the dark-haired people sat at the table and knocked down the other chairs. What they should have done was taken it apart or brought more chairs. That's what I see when I see Priti Patel. She took the benefits of BAME and none of them responsibility, "Sahota said.

Many have retained the "coloristic" attitudes they or their families had in India, he said, where those with lighter skin generally benefited, while darker skinned Indians faced more discrimination, a hierarchy validated by the Hindu caste system. .

In the UK, that has translated into anti-black racism among some Indians.

"South Asians may be inherently colorful. Some don't like people who are darker because that means they are less morally worthy. It's an inherent bias, like God doesn't like people with darker skin." said.

"The UK didn't teach us that. We need to own that. We are disgusting that way, so let's deal with it."

United States: a call to American Indians

There are similar calls coming from young Indians in the United States. A Tik Tok video of American Indian Rishi Madnani, which was widely shared last month, deconstructs the problem with the minority myth model, which still prevails in some corners of the country.

In it, Madnani points to the fact that many Indians moved to the United States during a migration wave between 1965 and 1990 under visa programs aimed at highly educated and qualified people. Conversely, many ancestors of African Americans were forcibly brought into the country as slaves.

"Because of this, we were predetermined to succeed, and when we were, the media painted us as model minorities, as good law-abiding citizens who were the opposite of blacks," he says, adding that many American Indians had been "misled by the minority myth model".

"Yes, South Asians face ignorance, casual racism, and hate crimes, but never in the history of the United States have we been systematically dehumanized and oppressed in the same way as blacks."

What Madnani does is offer some context, as simplified as it may be, as to why there may be differences in black and Asian experiences in the United States. But comparisons are still being made between ethnic minority groups in the country without any context.

Charles Negy, a professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida, recently sent out a series of tweets rejecting criticism of structural racism in the United States by comparing Asian Americans and African Americans.

"If African Americans as a group had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, earning the best academic performance, highest earnings, lowest crime, etc.), we would still be proclaiming 'systematic racism' # 39;? "He wrote in a tweet that has since been removed.

The university issued a statement condemning his comments "in the strongest terms" and has launched an investigation into his comments and other matters.
Negy defended his comments in a New York Times interview, saying he was critical of all ethnic and cultural groups. "There is no way I can be brutally honest about every racial / cultural group without offending someone."

Canada: "Brown's silence has been absolutely deafening"

Also in Canada, where protests have highlighted disproportionate police violence against black and indigenous Canadians, discussions about the Brown privilege are beginning to take place.

The leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, Jagmeet Singh, was kicked out of a session in parliament earlier this month after calling another racist politician.

Singh made the indictment in the House of Commons after Alain Therrien of the Bloc Québécois party rejected a motion acknowledging the existence of systemic racism in the Royal Canadian Police Mounted Force.

Canadian politician kicked out of parliament after calling his opponent & # 39; racist & # 39;
Bloc Québécois defended Therrien, saying in a statement that he voted against the motion because another committee was already studying the issue, Canadian public broadcaster CBC reported.
And during a roundtable in Toronto earlier this month on "Brown's Complicity in White Supremacy," Canadians of South Asian descent gathered to discuss topics such as brown silence, brown fragility and the continuation of minority model myth.

Herveen Singh, a Canadian education administration expert now working at Zayed University in Dubai, said: "Essentially, the model of the minority myth was created to divert attention from black slavery and replace it with & # 39; you're just not working hard enough & # 39 ;, regardless of the hundreds of years of slavery, the eugenic project, which firmly places whites at the top of the hierarchy and licenses them to dehumanize the Blacks, who are firmly at the bottom of this racial hierarchy, "he said, adding that brown people generally placed themselves" somewhere in the middle. "

"When black communities are under siege, where are we? Where is the collective brown solidarity for black lives? Until now, the silence has been absolutely deafening."

It's something that Nodin Nganji, a Burundian student studying international development in Toronto, has also noticed. in a recent tweet, shared Madikani's Tik Tok video and called on the browns in Canada to join the protests and verify their privilege.

"As far as the protests that I've been a part of here in Toronto, or the ones that I saw in the media in Ottowa, Vancouver or Montreal, there were mainly two races: black and white. Yes, there were some Asians, but very, very few, "Nganji told CNN.

"I see black people holding up signs, I see white people holding up signs. I see very few brown people participating in these conversations, protesting, donating or speaking. I don't think many recognize their privilege. I know we have some Asians who are our allies, but for my part is not enough. "

CNN's Tara John contributed to this story.


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