A Tale of Two DCentric Comments

Flickr: amberley johanna

A sign from the Rally to Restore Sanity which seemed apposite for this post, as well.

My post from December 28th, “More on Brown-on-Black Racism” may be the most “popular” piece I’ve ever written on DCentric, if we’re using comments and retweets as metrics. I am shocked (shocked!) and elated that it has nine whole comments, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions before wading in to the discussion and making a request for mutual respect. You’ve done a great job of being courteous to each other and I’d love to see that continue. My ultimate goal for this website is for it to become a trusted space for civil discussion of issues which usually inspire incivility.

Let’s look at one comment from that thread, from reader TL:

Oh how truly good it is to be Black. Black as night and no one can join us.

Of course, I don’t know AJ and I’ll assume she is a well meaning Indian woman. But when she’s not blogging, she’s probably out in the world being part of the problem. Reality: Asians, Indians and Hispanics generally want to be white. “Don’t say that!” “That’s ridiculous!” Behind closed doors (sometimes in public) the majority is the group they want align with. No problem. It’s survival to want to ride with whoever has the power. It’s a little gutless, but hey tough choices to be made in this life.

From the skin creams to eye taping. All of these groups run to the suburbs and equate being smiled on by the white man as, the sun beaming. Why? Why do you do it? Please tell us. Why do you want acceptance from someone who believes you to be beneath them?Don’t you know he stands alone? The majority isn’t out to make you an “honorary white man” (woman). Their circle is for them. The ultimate mind****. How do you get an entire planet full of people focused on seeking to be like you? Minorities would be better off concentrating less energy on how to be just like wonderful, glowy, sparkling, magical, white people and more energy on respecting their common struggles.

* Please don’t say, “Black people do those things too.” I’m not responsible for crazy Negroes.

To me, there are two issues with this statement. The first is minor and I hesitated to even mention it. This person does not know me and despite their disclaimer, it’s unfortunate that they felt the need to engage in conjecture about what I’m doing with my life, outside of “blogging”. No one is perfect, but accusing someone you don’t know of “being part of the problem” (when they’re trying to help fix the problem!) merits a side-eye at the very least. This person’s unfair accusation of complicity and mischaracterization of me as “Indian”–when I was born and raised in this country, not India– is irrelevant when compared to the second and real issue here; this comment is not productive. Parts of it are insightful and valuable, yet those words drown in a sea of insults and assumptions. This won’t help or get us anywhere– and that’s why it’s not about “no one can join us”, it’s more likely that they won’t want to, for fear of being attacked.

Let’s look at another comment, from DCR:

As an AA I actually feel sorry for many of the South Asians I encounter. Most will complain vigorously about racism and stereotyping that they face, but are incapable of understanding the correlation between this and the racism and stereotyping they inflict on others. But what I find to be truly sad is the level of self-loathing many carry internally. They seem to have an obsession with “light-skin” despite the fact that most of them of have dark-brown skin. Dangerous skin-lightening products are commonly used and brazenly marketed in South Asian communities. Images of South Asians in the media are often “photo-shopped” to make them appear lighter than they actually are. Its a shame that they have yet to have their own version of the “black is beautiful” movement. Until they do, they can look down on me as an AA, but I will continue to pity them.

This comment is also strongly-worded and passionate; it has the potential to hurt feelings, but it doesn’t, mostly because its author refrains from making sweeping claims about “ALL” members of a group while coming at them with compassion instead of contempt. The comment is personal, powerful and makes an interesting point– there is no movement that I’m aware of within the Desi community which is analogous to “Black is beautiful”. No personal attacks on me or other South Asians, just some hard-hitting observations described honestly. I appreciate such words and am thankful that DCR took the time to leave them. I hope I’ll be seeing more comments like that, as people “delurk” after growing more comfortable with DCentric in 2011.

  • American RogueDC

    I hope this website makes an earnest attempt to seriously define the various touchstones attributed generally to a culture and how they relate to the District of Columbia in particular. Race/Ethnicity and the dynamic of inter and intra self acceptance and self loathing are but “small” parts of the District’s past, present and future.

  • American RogueDC

    There is NO such thing as “olive complexion.” More remnants of the fear and loathing attributed to Brown & Black skin people. What’s next “khaki colored complexion; a bit tawny perhaps? There are No green people (ref. olive complexion).
    (post to blog – http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/more-on-brown-on-black-racism/)

    The emotionally/intellectually deceitful and delusional sleight of hand which allows “a people” to buy into the concept of “olive complexion,” reveals an insecurity that is deep-seated; an Achilles heel in their collective self-esteem. What should one make of “a people” who have to make their characteristics the definition of positive qualities/features (hair, teeth, complexion, and their history)? What should someone make of “a people” who actively and repeatedly look askance to the achievements of other people who do not look like them; actually take credit for these achievements in some cases? In other cases, “these people” actively and repeatedly suppress these achievements through omission. All the while, “these people” spend enormous amounts of time, money and emotional energy attempting to acquire the characteristics they “supposedly” despise – e.g. padded undergarments for round bottoms. “These people” will actually endanger their health in these attempts (tanning salons, injections for fuller features). “These people” are all agog when someone fairly (pun intended) resembling them has these features (Kyra Sedgwick; Jennifer Lopez etc). What should one make of such “a people”?

  • Singularity2030

    “Minorities would be better off concentrating less energy on how to be just like wonderful, glowy, sparkling, magical, white people and more energy on respecting their common struggles.”

    The author of this statement makes the assumption that Indian Americans have more in common (culturally? socially? financially?) with minorities in this country than they do with the majority.

    Based on……?