DCentric » Race and Ethnicity http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Kanazawa is Grounded for a Year by LSE http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/kanazawa-is-grounded-for-a-year-by-lse/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/kanazawa-is-grounded-for-a-year-by-lse/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 17:46:19 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10681 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: indiekidsdontdance

The London School of Economics.

In May of this year, Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics penned a controversial blog post for Psychology Today asking, “Why are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” Kanazawa was widely condemned for his views and Psychology today removed his post from their site, then fired him.

Meanwhile, students at the London School of Economics called for Kanazawa’s dismissal. According to Racialicious, which published an update to Kanazawa’s situation, the students didn’t get the outcome for which they were hoping:

The LSE has now published the findings of an internal investigation into the affair, ruling that Dr Kanazawa had “brought the school into disrepute” and barring him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for a year.

The inquiry, details of which were released to staff on 15 September, also concludes that he had “ignored the basic responsibility of a scientific communicator to qualify claims made in proportion to the certainty of the evidence”.

It found that “some of the arguments used…were flawed and not supported by evidence, that an error was made in publishing the blog post” and that Dr Kanazawa had not given “due consideration to his approach or audience”.

In addition to the 12-month ban, he will not teach any compulsory courses this academic year.

Racialicious’ Andrea Plaid characterized this reaction as a “slap on the wrist.” What do you think?

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Osama bin Laden is Dead: D.C’s South Asian Muslims React http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-is-dead-d-cs-south-asian-muslims-react/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-is-dead-d-cs-south-asian-muslims-react/#comments Wed, 04 May 2011 14:30:06 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=6347 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Chris.M.G.

Locals celebrate in front of the White House, Sunday night.

Afshan Khoja, a Muslim of Pakistani descent who lives in the DC area, was in tears after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden.

“It wasn’t because I was happy about bin Laden’s death, it was because suddenly all the things that September 11th have done to me, my religion and my country, came back to me: The fear of being asked questions while traveling; the immediate requirement to defend my religion not only when people asked why Muslims hate America, but also when terrorists did anything that could remotely be associated with Muslims; the feeling that somehow, I’ll always be ‘the other’ in America.”

Mou Khan, a Bangladeshi-American, also found herself reflecting on September 11th, after learning of bin Laden’s death.

“I remember exactly where I was when I first heard that a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. My memories are deeply personal, like when a schoolmate I didn’t know called me a terrorist…now, confronted with the news that Osama bin Laden, the man behind the tragedy, has been killed, I find myself conflicted.

“I cannot find it within myself to celebrate violence and extrajudicial killing, no matter how strong an urge for vengeance the trauma of September 11th left me,” said Khan, in reference to the celebration that took place in front of the White House as news broke of bin Laden’s death.

“I find myself deeply uncomfortable with the unbridled nationalistic celebrations that broke out across the country. Was it all worth it now that we know bin Laden’s blood has been shed? Is speaking up and asking questions during this fervor unpatriotic?”

Khan was not the only one with questions. News outlets like NPR asked, “Is It Wrong To Celebrate Bin Laden’s Death?

Khoja wondered about the aftermath of such public displays of patriotism.

“When I heard the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A” I felt fear. I don’t understand why, but I wanted to lock my doors. This morning I heard about vandalism and graffiti at a mosque. Between yesterday and today, three people have already asked me why the Pakistani government didn’t know that Osama was in Pakistan for years – I don’t know!

“The fact is, regardless of this news, none of that has stopped. This may be a significant blow to a terrorist network, but for a Pakistani Muslim living in the US, I’m not sure if it changes anything.”

Emma Khan (no relation to Mou Khan) whose family is originally from Bangladesh, said she thought all the singing and shouting was understandable. “Sometimes, people want to get together for huge events like this; it’s a victory for the US.”

Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wasn’t surprised at the public celebrations.

“That is almost inevitable in situations like this. I think it’s a temporary phenomenon based on the ten years it took to track down Osama bin Laden. I hope it doesn’t spill over in to hyper-patriotism.”

Shahid Buttar, a local performance artist and civil rights lawyer worried that other issues were being obscured by the focus on bin-Laden’s death.

“While it’s an exciting national security development, it does very little to address the ongoing constitutional crisis that emerged after the 2001 attack. I hope it allows the restoration of sanity here in the U.S. I’m glad (President) Obama is achieving gains in the war on terror, but the idea that we’d meet the death of any individual with chants of ‘USA, USA!’ reflects a shallowness in our understanding of these events and their implications.”

When the President addressed the nation, he emphasized that the war on terror was not a war on Islam:

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al-Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Ibrahim Hooper said, “I think he struck the appropriate tone and clearly said we’re not at war with Muslims. I think he hit it just right.”

But Khoja said it will take more than Presidential words to address how Muslims are treated in post 9/11-America.

“While the administration did make specific statements supporting Islam, I feel like there’s a lot more work to be done. Ten years of dealing with hate crimes, backlash, alienation and “otherization” will not just go away. But I do think that this is an opportunity for us to take a step back, learn from our mistakes, and perhaps revisit some our values – of tolerance, diversity, acceptance, justice and peace. I hope that we’ll find a space and forum to do that.”

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The Power of Perception, the Privilege of Passing http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/the-privilege-of-passing/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/the-privilege-of-passing/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2011 14:15:07 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=5617 Continue reading ]]> On Friday, Elahe published a post about how fluid racial identity is for people who identify as Hispanic or Latino. Recently, the New York Times unintentionally reminded us of such fluidity when it profiled four local pundits who’ve “made it” despite their youth and facility with new media–all of them were male, “white” and friends with each other. The well-circulated piece, which starred Ezra Klein, Brian Beutler, Dave Weigel and Matt Yglesias touched a nerve:

Rebranding myself as Matteo Iglesias to help evade mockery for all-white, all-male NYT profile of "young" pundits.

But wait, there was more, as Elahe pointed out when she quoted Yglesias in her post:

When the New York Times recently did a piece on me, Ezra Klein, Brian Beutler, and Dave Weigel exactly zero people complained about the massive over-representation of people of Latin American ancestry that reflected. People saw it as a profile of four white dudes. Which is what it was. But my dad’s family is from Cuba, Ezra’s dad’s family is from Brazil, and Brian’s mom’s family is from Chile.

DCentric reader Keith posed an interesting question, in response to that clarification:

Isn’t there a difference between being a White-skinned Latino who identifies as Latino first and foremost and having a Latino and White parent and being White-skinned? I don’t know that any of these bloggers self-identify as Latino…

My initial reaction to Keith’s query: “not really”. Every day I am reminded that how I choose to identify myself is largely irrelevant to the people I encounter, because their perception of my appearance trumps–and thus influences–my reality. I may classify myself as a second-generation, South Asian American of Malayalee Christian descent, but that is almost never what others see.

Flickr: Michael Thompson

Emperor Haile Sellassie I of Ethiopia

During twelve years of living in D.C., while constantly encountering questions like, “What are you?” or “Where are you from?”, only one person has correctly discerned my exact cultural background.

Usually, the strangers with whom I interact believe that I am Ethiopian; I’m no longer surprised when “off-duty” cab drivers make illegal u-turns to pick up someone who looks, “just like my cousin in Addis!”. This may seem like a trivial detail, but it’s not, because Washington, D.C. is a city with a prominent immigrant population from that African nation. Due to the power of perception, I have become a member of a diaspora that is not mine.

When then-candidate Barack Obama faced headlines like, “What Obama Isn’t: Black Like Me.“, he answered questions about his “authenticity” as a black man this way, according to an article penned by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for TIME:

“If I’m outside your building trying to catch a cab,” he told Charlie Rose, “they’re not saying, ‘Oh, there’s a mixed race guy.’” Obama understands what all blacks, including myself, know all too well — that Amadou Diallo’s foreign ancestry could not prevent his wallet from morphing into a gun in the eyes of the police.

And perhaps inversely, the ancestry of the part-Latino pundits who were and are considered ‘White Dudes’ was not a factor in their ascending to such great heights because most people were unaware of their diverse family backgrounds. Perception trumps facts; if you are perceived as white, that can be beneficial. In the race game, the opposite of discrimination is often privilege, a concept that anti-racism activist Peggy McIntosh once defined in an essay:

As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage…I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless kapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

DCentric commenter Zena deserves credit for being aware of the advantages she may have enjoyed, because of her appearance:

None of this is new for mixed race folks, especially those of us who look white (I’m half white and half Arab)…For those of us identified as “white,” regardless of our actual ethnicity, we must understand the privilege that that label might have afforded us. I’m never more conscious of that then when I am in a crowd, standing next to my very dark skinned Lebanese father. For the record, I feel most comfortable identifying as a “mixed American.”

Sometimes, when I hand out a pretty, new WAMU business card and identify that my beat is “race and class”, I’m met with annoyance and some version of the following statement: “The problem is, we focus TOO MUCH on race. Aren’t we all equal?”

While the idealism that powers such sentiments is laudable, the fact is we are a nation that must consider race. How are statistics about health, employment, housing, education and poverty often broken down? By race. Even certain laws, like those safeguarding voting rights or instituting policies like affirmative action depend on racial categorization.

A study by the Lewis Mumford Center of SUNY Albany found that while black-identified American Hispanics were less likely to be immigrants or speak a language other than English, and were more educated than other Hispanics, “their economic performance is worse, with a lower median household income than other Hispanics, as well as higher unemployment and poverty rates.”

So race matters in very real and significant ways, whether it “should” or not, whether someone identifies a certain way, or not. During Spanish colonial times in America, it was possible to purchase a Cedula de Gracias al Sacar, or a “certificate of whiteness“, that allowed the buyer–no matter their race– to access privilege for a price. Today, the only thing that guarantees privilege is how you are perceived, whether by the New York Times or the cab driver who is considering if you are a worthy customer to transport somewhere, preferably in Northwest D.C.

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DC9 Death Continues to Cause Pain, Confusion http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/dc9-death-continues-to-cause-pain-confusion/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/dc9-death-continues-to-cause-pain-confusion/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2011 13:31:12 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=4854 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Andrew Bossi

A memorial for Ali Ahmed Mohammed, at the entrance of DC9 on October 24, 2010.

In the early hours of Oct 15, 2010, Ali Ahmed Mohammed tried to enter DC9, a local nightclub located on a block unofficially known as “Little Ethiopia“. When he was denied entry, he picked up a brick and hurled it through the club’s window.

In response, five of the club’s employees chased Mohammed and, depending on which version of events you believe, either beat him to death or roughly restrained him, triggering a cardiac arrest.

After a witness reportedly claimed to have seen DC9′s employees attack Mohammed, Cathy Lanier, D.C.’s Chief of Police, characterized the situation as “vigilante justice“. The five employees from DC9 were arrested on murder charges that were eventually dropped. Mohammed’s death was ruled a homicide.

The story seemed to polarize parts of the city, with fans of the nightclub expressing support for DC9 and its employees while the city’s prominent Ethiopian community decried the attack on one of their own. Even today, five months after Mohammed’s death, some Ethiopian Americans are hurt and confused.

News of the controversy has spread as far as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, where Abubeker Mohammed, a 29-year old D.C. cab driver with no relation to the man who died, was visiting when he first heard about it.

Mohammed said if the situation were reversed– if the club’s employees were Ethiopian and the man who died was white– then it “would be news all over the U.S. They’d never let them out of jail. Unfortunately, the guy who died was an immigrant. Ethiopian, black, Muslim…he had everything possible going against him.”

Hemen Solomon, a woman who lives in Columbia Heights added, “It breaks my heart that there’s no justice. Who can we turn to?…You struggle to make it here, to have a better life, and all you have is a dead body to take back to where we come from.”

A friend who knew Mohammed said that he would stand up for himself if needed, but was otherwise “harmless”.

“He was a friendly guy…Unless someone else provoked him, he wouldn’t start anything,” said Bekalu Biable, a local promoter and graduate student. “His family wants closure…If somebody killed him, we need justice.”

Some were shocked by the news that the city’s chief medical examiner reported that there was no visible trauma to Ali Ahmed Mohammed’s body.

“Remember?,” Solomon asks. “There was blood, there were witnesses? How about that? And the Police Chief herself said they beat him up?…It used to be in the local media, too. I don’t understand why we didn’t hear more.”

Bill Spieler is one of the co-owners of DC9. He was also one of the five people who were initially arrested for Mohammed’s death. Spieler said city officials should provide people with more information.

“I think parts of the community are a little confused about how things have gone because no one has told them otherwise…No public official has stepped up to the plate to explain things, either, whereas in the beginning, they had no problem coming out and saying something.”

The case is being “actively investigated” in conjunction with the US Attorney’s Office, said Police Chief Cathy Lanier, in a statement.

“Now that a final ruling has been issued by the Medical Examiner’s Office, the investigation into this crime can move forward with the goal of bringing the party or parties responsible to justice,” she wrote.

The US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

As for Mohammed’s family members, they are “disappointed, but still optimistic,” said Andrew Laurence, a local community organizer and family spokesperson.

Laurence said that many Ethiopians immigrated to “escape political oppression, or violence from the police and military.”

“They left a police state, got amnesty here, and thought that they were coming to the land of justice. Now they worry that they can’t get justice here, so where can they get it?”

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Salvadoran Women in D.C. via Metro Connection http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/salvadoran-women-in-d-c-via-metro-connection/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/salvadoran-women-in-d-c-via-metro-connection/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2011 21:59:53 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=4589 Continue reading ]]>

Metro Connection: Kate Sheehy

In case you missed it– last Friday’s Metro Connection had a “Visitors” theme and examined everything from D.C.’s Most-Missed Monuments to Temporiums or “pop-up shops”. One story got my attention and might be of interest to DCentric readers: “A New Life: Salvadoran Women in D.C.“.

The D.C. region has the second-largest Salvadoran population in the United States. For the past 30 years, primarily men have been coming over, and sending money to family members back home. That money has helped pay for the education of a number of young women. But these women often have difficulty finding a job in their home country, so many head north, with plans of sticking around long enough to save up and go home. But Kate Sheehy introduces us to women who have come here and stayed, in hopes of improving their lives.

Second-largest! I thought we’d have the largest population in the country. It turns out that distinction belongs to Southern California.

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The City Paper’s Profile of Ali Ahmed Mohammed http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/the-city-papers-profile-of-ali-ahmed-mohammed/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/the-city-papers-profile-of-ali-ahmed-mohammed/#comments Thu, 03 Feb 2011 23:45:20 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3981 Continue reading ]]> Ali Ahmed Mohammed stopped existing on October 15. I use that odd phrasing because of something striking I have noticed– white people tend to say “he died”, while Black people use words like “he was killed”. Almost four months after a death which is still shrouded in mystery, the City Paper’s feature, “Something Happened at DC9. Who Did it Happen to?” doesn’t provide any additional information to those of us who wonder how Mohammed died or why.

So this is what the piece does do; it humanizes Mohammed while providing details about a man who has either been vilified or martyred, depending on whom you ask. This is what it does not do: assign blame. Maybe we’ll never know what happened, but if you are interested in one of the city’s most prominent immigrant communities, the article is worth a read:

One thing to know about Little Ethiopia: It’s not little. Decade-old census figures place the number of Ethiopians in the region at about 30,000, but community members suspect the real number is considerably higher—at least 100,000. It’s the largest Ethiopian community outside Ethiopia, says Andrew Laurence , president of the Ethiopian-American Cultural Center and the neighborhood’s unofficial historian.

Like the demographic that congregates there, Little Ethiopia has been growing. Today, Laurence says, it encompasses a “traditional border of 18th Street in Adams Morgan from Columbia Road to Florida Avenue over to 9th Street along Florida (U Street) to 9th Street and then down 9th Street to Q Street and over to 7th and Q Street.” Of course, Ethiopians aren’t the only ones who flock to the 1900 block of 9th Street NW. DC9, with its appeal to white hipsters, and Nellie’s, a gay sports bar on the corner, reflect two other populations with a growing presence in the neighborhood.

Laurence says D.C. became a hub for Ethiopian immigrants starting in the 1970s, “when Haile Selassie was overthrown.” The Marxist military regime that took over began killing off elites and intellectuals, Laurence says. Many fled to America, which had supported the deposed monarchy. The immigrant population was initially centered in Adams Morgan, near the former home of the Ethiopian embassy.

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Black is beautiful. http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/black-is-beautiful/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/black-is-beautiful/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 22:58:56 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/black-is-beautiful/ Continue reading ]]> image

Speaking of Irving Street nw, just spotted this.

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“Black people don’t like the cold.” http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/black-people-dont-like-the-cold/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/02/black-people-dont-like-the-cold/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 17:42:57 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3912 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: DDOTDC

A Capital Bikeshare bike.

Now reading: “Biking While Black?“, Rend Smith’s take on a controversial Greater Greater Washington post, which theorized that one of the reasons why Capital Bikeshare wasn’t popular east of the Anacostia was because…”black people don’t like the cold.”

The African-American blogger who wrote the GGW piece, Veronica Davis, provided a list of seven reasons why the bike-sharing program wasn’t catching on, but most readers zeroed in on part of her final point: “Seasonal usage”.

“I was basically called racist,” Davis says…

The last reason on her list, “seasonal usage,” prompted Davis to write a sentence that eventually earned a strikethrough from GGW editors: “In general, African-Americans, which make up the large majority of the residents east of the river, are averse to colder temperatures.”

A number of the 120 comments that followed took offense to Davis’ assertion, which she followed up with a salient point about the futility of introducing Bikeshare stations during the latter part of the year. “Because relatively few residents were cyclists prior to the introduction of CaBi, the chances that the uninitiated bike rider is going to start cycling in late fall or the winter are relatively low.”…

But Davis explains she wasn’t positing a scientific theory when she mentioned African Americans not liking the chill. It’s just something that’s said among black people, she says: “If I had said that to an entirely black audience, no one would have been offended.” The small piece of controversy might have overshadowed the core of Davis’ piece, which, more than simply explaining a lack of enthusiasm for Bikeshare East of the River, sought to combat an emerging perception Davis doesn’t like– that District blacks are and will remain anti-bike.

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Regarding Roots– Literally http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/regarding-roots-literally/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/01/regarding-roots-literally/#comments Tue, 04 Jan 2011 15:35:18 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=3125 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: stevendepolo

Since I avoided the internet for the last few days of 2010, I’m catching up on all my favorite blogs. This post, “‘Good Hair’ on C.P. Time.” from PostBourgie, reminds me that though I intended to, I still haven’t seen the notable Chris Rock documentary about hair:

This seemed to be the reaction that Rock was nudging the audience toward, even as he seemed to assiduously avoid taking an explicit stance. We watch as a principal ingredient in hair relaxer eats through a metal can, before cutting to a little girl of about three or four who has already started getting her hair permed — the opening night audience in Brooklyn gasped loudly and tut-tutted at this — before seeing how the hair used to make expensive weaves sold stateside is literally shorn from the heads of poor people in South Asia as part of a religious ritual…

That last bit about South Asian temple hair is something I end up discussing almost weekly with someone. The offering occurs at Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, in southern India.

“(The documentary) also oddly doesn’t spend much time on women who eschew all that stuff and decide to go natural. There’s a scene in which a group of high school students are talking about hair, and the one sporting a fro comes in for some criticism. Her hair, the others think, might hurt her career prospects by hindering folks’ capacities to take her see her as professional. But if you’ll allow me a completely irresponsible generalization, I’d guess that college-educated, professional women are way, way more likely to have natural hair than women who are not. (Say it with me: social location matters.)

I’m not sure what the purpose of that scene was, other than to show us the discomfort some people have with natural hair, but since that sentiment was being voiced by teenagers — not exactly a cohort known for its foresight and its embrace of difference — their observations about The Way The World Works probably aren’t really that useful. That seems all the more reason to have more women who went natural represented in some way.

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More on Brown-on-Black Racism http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/more-on-brown-on-black-racism/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/12/more-on-brown-on-black-racism/#comments Tue, 28 Dec 2010 21:31:13 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2987 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Chaymation

My “DMV Masala“-post– which was about my interaction with an African-American cab driver who was interested in my ethnicity because her own niece was half-Indian– inspired four of you to comment! That’s no small feat here at DCentric, where I’m more likely to hear crickets than reader reactions– I kid, I kid. I hear silence, not bugs. Anyway, one comment from American RogueDC deserved to be highlighted:

I remember very well having my heart broken by a co-worker (an Indian woman) whom I thought was a friend. We had worked together for more than ten years. One day, while viewing some photographs she was sharing of her female relatives taken during her baby-shower (I in fact had just given her my gift for the baby), I said, “You should introduce me to some of your nieces.” Her reply was simple, “You are too dark!” Until that moment, my being an African-American man who is only slightly darker in skin tone than her had never “seemed” to be a problem.

How painful, to be so crudely and immediately rejected by a long-time friend. The first thing I wondered was whether the woman was first- or second-generation.

My parents are immigrants; they are first-gen. I was born and raised here, so I’m “second”. Of course, this can get even more complicated, because there are people who were born abroad, who come here as children and are sometimes referred to as “1.5″s, but upon reflection, all of that is irrelevant. When you work with someone for ten years, there are better, gentler ways to let them down– and yet part of me wonders if that was exactly what this woman was trying to do.

Perhaps to her, “You are too dark!” was preferable to the bluntly honest and self-aware “my people are often quite racist, especially to Black people and Muslims”. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. Having said that, I did help create a vibrant, international community for the South Asian diaspora which is six-years old; my experiences there have taught me a lot about my Indian-from-India/Desi/Brown/South Asian/Dot-not-feather peers– and I don’t think anyone would say that I am wrong if I pointed out that too many of us have a terrible relationship with the concept of Blackness, whether that refers to skin color or an entire community.

Of course, some of us have a Black friend or two but those pals are the exception(al)s which prove the rule. I know many people with “Black friends” who still say or think problematic things about “Black people”, while congratulating themselves on not being racist. And people from the subcontinent don’t have a monopoly on such issues, either; I recently had a great conversation with an Ethiopian woman who described how her people were shocked when they discovered that she lived with a Black roommate. “Ethiopians don’t usually consider themselves to be Black…if that makes sense,” she explained. Oh, it makes perfect sense. I know an embarrassing number of South Asian people who are darker than Tayshaun Prince or Vanessa Williams, but see themselves as superior to or consummately different from them– just because the latter are Black. For that, I’m sorry and sad, but not surprised.

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