Racism without Racists : Racism in South Asia

By : Mohammed Jehan Khan

I am a South Asian, Brown guy, mixed, Ethnic Moor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_Moor), Indian Sayyid and a Sri Lankan national. One more than instance, I have seen this racism and skin colour and the many shades of prejudice of my people blatantly or indirectly insulting dark skinned people inferior to fair skinned people. This is a shame, however I believe Westerners, both revert Muslims and non muslims are better in faith than those who call themselves born Muslims.

Over the last few decades, these have tried to become a “post racial society.” They try to look past skin colour, ban discrimination, and teach tolerance. From their birth they are taught that everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same chance. Even if they don’t always live up to their ideals, they still strive to reach them.

If you visit South Asian nations (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) you can witness top class colour racism among our people. They crave for whiteness. The whiter your skin the better you are. In South Asia dark skinned people are looked down upon. Everyone strives to be white- every skin product has whitening in it and everyone stays out of the sun. Historically, dark skin was associated with people who worked in the fields (also known as the poor). The upper class stayed indoors and in the shade. South Asian countries look down on dark skin not because of racism but because they don’t want to be perceived as poor.

Growing up I was often told by my parents to stay out of the sun. My mother worried that the complexion of my skin will become dark if I spent too much time outside. My aunts flung concerned glances at me and my cousins when we were returning home after playing cricket, and made taunting comments about our tanned skin. Thus, from a very early age I learned that having dark skin was something to be embarrassed of.

My classmates were also familiar with this racial demarcation, so making fun of kids with a darker skin tone was quite common. The discrimination against dark-skinned people in my country is as prevalent among adults as it is at the school level. For most front desk, sales and customer relations jobs, preference is given to fair-skinned candidates because many companies believe that employees with a white-complexion can make a better impression on the clients. While looking for a suitable spouse for their sons, parents almost always give extra points to fair-skinned girls.

As Muslims, we are taught that race doesn’t matter, that one skin color isn’t better than another.

“O people, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Expert.”
(Quran 49:13)

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors; verily in that are signs for those who know.”
(Quran 30:22)

People do not understand the reality of SIN! If someone does not accept a sign of Allah, then this is disbelief.

We are racist without even realising it. Whether or not we will ever completely overcome this racism, I do not know. But, perhaps it will slowly seep out of our minds if the media stops reinforcing it. We, on our part, should also stop idolising the white skin and must not pass on this racist notion to the younger generation.


Author: Mohammed Jehan Khan

A Soldier of Fortune who born without a silver spoon in his arse. Google my name to know me more.

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