Racism In South Asian Muslim Communities

Eid Mubarak! Racism In South Asian Muslim Communities

It's time we called out our own internal stigmas.


This past month featured the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims worldwide, and the beginning of the Eid celebrations that mark such an occasion. Amidst the joyous pleasantries, my uncles and aunts, along with their families, swung by my house for a well-planned family reunion. I was excited to see them after so long, but my joy was tempered by my aunt's quick remark, akin to a morbid diagnosis:

"Oh, you've gotten so dark! You shouldn't run outside, otherwise, you'll get even darker!"

The South Asian community within the United States has endured its own fair share of racial and religious turbulence in the past, with most Americans of a lighter complexion constantly questioning our patriotism and discussing our cultural habits as if they were scientific specimens to be dissected instead of appreciated. The recent surge in Islamic terrorism has only worsened the issue, with many viewing us as foreigners and enemies despite my generation having grown up our entire lives in this great nation. Yet, we cannot turn a blind eye towards our own internalized colorism that has carried on throughout generations, consistently ingrained in the back of our minds ever since we were children.

As kids, we were told to not get too dirty playing outside, and chastised if we spent too much time soaking up the sun and growing darker in complexion—indeed, I know of some families who view their lighter skinned children with more favor than their darker counterparts. Even as adults, we are constantly criticized by our elders (who view lighter skin as a sure sign of beauty) for being too dark, and recommended products such as "Fair and Lovely"—as if our complexion was the ONLY determining factor in our worth.

I can't even begin to imagine the treatment that South Asian women are forced to endure from these same elders; the constant threat that they will never be seen as desirable for marriage without "pure" skin is an entrenched belief that causes many to experiment with questionable products for the mere sake of trying to "beautify" themselves—as if beauty was merely an external currency to measure one's value and not determinant upon the soul of a human being.

Our communities have also extended this perception of dark skin as an affliction towards being dismissive of our fellow African American brothers and sisters—we treat them with a silent disdain in public, and ridicule their cultural experiences just as ours are ridiculed, as if we are somehow better than them based on some arbitrary determination of skin color, regardless of whether or not they choose to accept Islam.

I can't even describe the countless instances I have witnessed an African American Muslim brother step foot in a Masjid and see faces of disapproval directed at him simply because of his complexion; I've even known others who simply choose not to come to the Masjid anymore because of the racism they endure from their own fellow Muslim community. We talk a lot about racism directed at us, and at how Islam demonizes the very notion of segregation based on pigmentation, but we truly are hypocrites when it comes to our own toxic white fetish, and our actions are a clear indication of it.

It's time we address our own racism and work as a community to eradicate the stigmas that bind us so that we can learn to embrace and accept all regardless of race, religion or creed.

Our very own Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us as Muslims that none of us is superior to anyone except by the piety of our actions and the love in our hearts for all humankind, so let's work towards this goal.

This may not be a mission that can be accomplished overnight—such deep-rooted stereotypes are nigh on impossible to completely wipe out—but we can be conscious of our words and actions and do a better job at understanding each other so that we can all unite as one people.

Cover Image Credit:

Adeel Azim

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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