Racism In South Asian Muslim Communities

Eid Mubarak! Racism In South Asian Muslim Communities

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

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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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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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