In the midst of a heavy weak for the black community in the United States, with a call to action from every imaginable group — the South Asian community remains oddly silent. Have we already forgotten about the brutality suffered by our communities in the UK, Canada, South Africa, and across the commonwealth?
As a fair-skinned South Asian woman, I was largely unaware of my own privilege until moving to the United States. At 15, I found myself in a world where my skin color and curly hair became a liability, forcing me to navigate the world as a ‘brown’ woman and a person of color.
A natural ‘activist’, I gravitated towards people who were wrestling with race-dynamics, colonialism, and education throughout my 20’s. I taught in West Chicago — witnessing devastating poverty up-close for the first time in my life. I spent two summers as a researcher in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum. Many weekends in graduate school were spent volunteering in the East Vancouver neighborhood with indigenous youth. In my first job, my work portfolio consists of youth programs in South Seattle, working with Ethiopian, Oromo, Somali and other groups of immigrant and refugee youth.
Each year, as I grew in my activism and advocacy, I fell farther away from the mainstream desi community. It took moving to and working in India during my early-30’s where I found a community of racial, progressive South Asians — and started to make sense of how deeply anti-black, classist, and xenophobic our community is both in India and abroad.
Today, I’m deeply embarrassed about where I come from and where I live. The desi diaspora in the United States has been largely high-skill, highly-paid labor — benefiting from our white-adjacency. Our colonial hangover is so strong, that we live in a fog of believing that solidarity with white folk will help us succeed and will somehow save us from racialized discrimination.
Fellow South Asians, I invite you to stand in solidarity with #BIPOC communities in the US! This is not the time to be ignorant and stay silent.