Black Lives Matter has been trending as the world is witnessing large scale protests against police brutality, racism and social injustice especially in the US and the UK after the custodial death of the African American man, George Floyd, in Minnesota.
Many people are now questioning brown people’s silence on the issue. “Just as people are being told to acknowledge their White privilege, calls are growing louder for South Asian diasporas, particularly Indians, in the UK, US and Canada to check their brown privilege and speak out against anti-Black racism,” writes Angela Dewan, a Digital Producer with CNN International.
The belief that some Asian groups are the “model minorities” have perpetuated stereotypes against minorities and given the governments, companies and institutions of power a mask for their own systemic racism. “It completely ignores the fact that one minority group may face very different challenges or levels of racism than another,” writes Dewan.
She says that the British media reports have pointed to the Indian diaspora’s success in the country: British-Indian graduates in England and Wales, on average, earn more than most other ethnic minority groups, even slightly more than the White majority, government data shows.
They achieve better results in primary and high school than the White majority, often second only to British-Chinese students and they are arrested less often than White people.
Meanwhile, Black people earn less after graduating and are more likely to be arrested. A Tik Tok video by Indian-American Rishi Madnani broke this myth of South Asian minorities being better than the Black minorities by pointing out that that many Indians moved to the United States during a wave of migration between 1965 and 1990 under visa programs that targeted skilled and highly educated people.
Whereas, many Black Americans’ ancestors were forcibly taken to the country as slaves. “Because of this we were pre-determined to be successful and when we were, the media painted us as model minorities, as good, law-abiding citizens that were the opposite of Black people,” he says. He further added that many Indian-Americans had been “fooled by the model minority myth.”
Hasan Minhaj, an American comedian, known for his Netflix show Patriot Act called out the Indian community for their colourism and racism in one of his episodes, that has gone viral. Minhaj takes on the issue of racism and anti-black attitudes common among South Asian communities.
“Take UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of ministers, for example, which he has touted as the country’s most diverse in history. But really, a look at its makeup shows it’s simply the most Indian Cabinet, with three ministers of Indian descent,” writes Dewan.
Home Minister Priti Patel created a controversy when she dismissed Black opposition MP Florence Eshalomi, who was complaining the ruling Conservative government was not taking structural racism seriously.
It is important to note that some of the people, especially the young South Asians, have started to acknowledge their privileges and speak out against racism and social injustices. They are recognising anti-Black racism revealed in Mahatma Gandhi’s writing from his days spent in South Africa.
“Unfortunately, brown people got a seat at the table and kicked down the other chairs. What they should have done was dismantle it or bring more chairs. That’s what I see when I see Priti Patel. She took the benefits of BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) and none of the responsibility,” says Jaskaran Sahota, a 34-year-old advertising executive and an amateur comedian, has attended Black Lives Matter protests in London.