no really though
all you white assholes (usually cis-women in this context) are really willing to take pieces of my culture and wear it because it’s pretty or some bastardized spiritual significance. you’re willing to trumpet your freedom of speech and religious expression and how it’s your “right” (yes, being a massive douche is a right, i’ll give you that) to wear it, no matter what the people who ACTUALLY HAVE A CONNECTION TO IT say
but you’re so fucking complicit in the dehumanization of my body through fetishization and exotification. you’re complicit in the sexual and physical violence against women like me, in the third world savior complex, islamophobia, etc
because when you continue to wear all these things we poc tell you not to wear, you’re telling us (again) that our voices don’t matter when it comes to our own cultures and religion
you’re telling us to butt out of a conversation that involves us to the very core of who we are
you’re telling us that your whiteness, fashion sense, and third-eye wikipedia bullshit is more important on every level than you respecting me and my very basic humanity
in fact, you’re straight up stripping me of my humanity and telling me i don’t count
i never will
not when faced with your love of color, the exotic, and continued dehumanization people of color to animals squawking in the background versus people you respect
TRIGGER WARNING: BLATANT FUCKING RACISM.
So. Disney Channel’s relatively new show Jessie features a girl nannying for the adopted children of a pair of hollywood moguls. One of these children is the Indian boy named Ravi, who comes into the clip at about 0:50.
This character is pretty much the most blatant racism I have seen on a tv show, especially directed towards kids, in a very long fucking time, if not IN MY WHOLE LIFE.
The whole character hinges on the idea that Ravi is Indian! and has quirky Indian culture! and doesn’t know about American things! and has a lizard named MR. KIPLING and says things like “I AM A HUMAN SAMOSA!!” when inside a sleeping bag and just
that’s the joke
the joke is that he is Indian
I mean seriously just watch this clip I cannot even talk about this
The fact that this is airing right now and no one is outraged and Disney is AIRING THIS RIGHT NOW
makes me want to punch things and also cry out of fucking frustration this is terrible
Commenting is disabled on the Youtube video but I just thumbs-downed the fuck out of this video.
UGH WHAT THE FUCK
It exists. And you may think I have an anecdote for everything race-related, but hey, that’s what happens when you’re proud of a heritage that the country you live in tells you is worth no more than the shit on the sidewalk, right? That’s what happens when you make the “mistake” of being Black in a society built on keeping you in a position of worthlessness and subservience. Anyway, the story I want to share with you today is one from my earliest experiences with anti-Blackness from people who were not white.
I used to attend classes at my local masjid (mosque) to learn Arabic so I could read the Qu’ran without English translations. I was still in the process of learning the alphabet and numbers at the time, and one of our lessons was to discuss the hadiths—or life lessons according to Islam—of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (saw).
In any case, my instructor was a Desi woman. I used to adore her. She was so kind and she was very pretty and she was very patient with me regarding Arabic as she grew up speaking Hindi and Bengali (from Bangladesh). Anyway, one day we were discussing a hadith and she totally flipped the script on me. I was one of the two Black children in the class, as the rest were Pakistani, Indian, Bengali, and a few Arabs. One of my closest friends at the time, Tamana, was from Bangladesh and she would help me when I’d have trouble. The Desi teacher asked me how I practice Islam at home, and I told her the same as any other Muslim, however, my father was part of the Islamic sect of Ahmadiyah. All of a sudden her entire demeanor changed.
“You’re not a real Muslim,” she said. The entire class went quiet. There were only 15 of us in a small room in the women’s section of the masjid. I blinked, because I thought maybe she’d misunderstood what I was saying.
“How can I not be a real Muslim? I make salat five times a day, I practice halal, I worship Allah the same as any other Muslim.” But she was singularly determined to prove I wasn’t a real Muslim because of the sect my father was part of.
“Well, for one,” she said, and she got real uppity about this, “you’re Black, and your father is Ahmadiyah. We all know the Ahmadiyah don’t believe in God.”
When I tell you all I saw was fucking RED…I didn’t curse at her, and I didn’t raise my voice, because this was the masjid after all, but I did argue with her that Islam is one of the few faiths in which even though there are different sects, the worship is the same. The Five Pillars of Islam don’t change, and we don’t read the Qu’ran or make Salat any differently than any other Muslim.
I burst into tears, because it was the first time anyone had denied my faith based on my skin color and my chosen sect. But could I leave the classroom? No. I didn’t have a choice at the time. I was 12, and classes weren’t over for another two hours. I had to sit there in my pain and you know what? No one defended me. Not a single one of those kids who yucked it up and laughed at my jokes during the lunch break. Not even the other Black kids, although they did look uncomfortable.
My point is, the anti-Blackness racism that goes on comes from more than just white people. Sure, white people started it, but they did so in such a way that it’s self-perpetuating. I know way too many Desi people who adopt the “white is right” attitude, and the time I spent in India proved that whiteness has left an indelible mark on the psyche of those people. Why else would skin-bleaching be so prominent there? Skin bleaching and colored contacts. You think Ashwariya Rai was always that light? Please yo. You think Bipasha Basu was always that lightskinned?
And it’s not just in India, either. China too. Sudanese-Arabs hold themselves in higher regard than their “darker” kin (I saw this first hand for myself), lots of West African are adopting skin bleaching and dying their hair in an attempt to look more lghtskinned because lighter skin (or as close to white as possible) is considered more desirable.
Why the fuck do you think that is? In Africa, where a majority of the people are as dark or darker than I am and have been for thousands of years? Why is having lighter skin suddenly so important to the rest of the world. Why the colored contacts, the lightening of the hair?
Why the prejudice between people of color based on which shade of the melanin-scale you fall under?
Why do you fucking think that Desi teacher cited my being Black as a reason I couldn’t be a Muslim?
You’re not going to sit here and tell me it has nothing to do with the fact that you’ve been born and bred to believe that Blacks fall at the bottom of the social ladder. Matter fact, some of you brown folks must in the back of your mind not even put Blacks on the social ladder?
No, the only time a Black woman’s body is acceptable is when she super thin, and therefore cannot be sexualized because she lacks the curves of Nicki Minaj. It’s okay to like Black woman who have Eurocentric features, but don’t let her acknowledge her Blackness! Then it’s time to deep six her and abandon ship.
I’d love nothing more than to have some solidarity between people of color because I think that’s one of the top ways we all can combat racism in a white-washed society that really views us all as inferior. You can bleach and avoid the sun all you want, wear all the colored contacts you like, but you will never be white, and your racist oppressors know it. Sit there and deny it all you fucking like, but if there’s one thing being kicked around at the bottom of the social ladder has taught Black folks, it’s the fucking truth.
Sufis, Sidis and saints
More than 2,000 years ago, the sailors of Gujarat in western India learned that if they set sail at the right time of the year, a strong and steady wind would take them to a distant land hundreds of kilometres away over the ocean.
Then, after six months, the wind would switch direction and just as easily take the Gujarati boats back home again.
The returning ships carried goods and people, and eventually turned the coastal Indian state into a wealthy centre of intercontinental trade.
Many Gujaratis chose to settle in that distant land, where their descendants still live today. Likewise, many people travelled in the opposite direction.
“Africans came here as merchants, adventurers, labourers, slaves and also as soldiers,” says Dr Ababu Minda Yinene, an Ethiopian anthropologist working in India.
“They brought with them their musical instruments, drumming in the ships, dancing, singing, doing the religious practices that they were doing in Africa, even falling into trances in the ships,” Ababu says.
It seems most Africans had no problem marrying locals, their offspring integrating and disappearing into mainstream society.
Of the several million who, historians believe, came to India, there are a few traces left today.
History books recount stories of successful African soldiers and powerful kings; tourists can visit some awe-inspiring mosques and castles they built and Indians of all creeds and castes worship at the grave of an African saint.
But after centuries in India, there remain some communities that are unmistakably African - in physical appearance and in their musical and religious practices.
They call themselves the Sidi, derived from an Arabic word meaning mister or lord.
So earlier on today, a post was circulating around the tumblr-woods addressing the frustrations of many a Hindu and Buddhist tumblr-er. Particularly the issue of appropriation of these faiths and philosophies in Western Institution. What was meant to address the issues of privilege and the things that are detrimental to these beliefs was unfortunately derailed by a fair portion of privilege deniers. Unfortunately the post got removed and was yet again a blow against the chance for us religious and POC minorities to speak about the things that burden us in predominantly Western based, Abrahamic faith focused world.
I wish I had the opportunity to add on to that post- so here I am making my own. I mean seriously, the privilege deniers baaaws even hit my part of the woods and there for receiving sand and hilarious messages like this.
“I’m white and I don’t have privilege and I’m friends with muslims”
“Christianity doesn’t get the same special treatment as Hinduism”
“You’re being racist”
I didn’t even make the post and my inbox was full of this. God knows how many the writers of the OP must have received.
Even long before that post I was getting messages from angry white folk who didn’t appreciate me calling them out on the ignorance and appropriation of Hinduism. Even now I still get these annoying messages from a Christian dude who demands that I describe Hinduism in a “Christian friendly way”.
Before I get any deeper I do want to establish that I cannot speak for Buddhists here, though our philosophies share a lot of similarity- we are not the same. Though it would be lovely if any Buddhist folk out there did add on how appropriation of their philosophy has affected their identity and experiences.
I can’t even speak for a fraction of all Hindus either to be honest.
What I can say is this. Just sit back for a second dear reader. Imagine growing up in a Christian dominated society which called itself secular. Imagine being told that at a young age that your religion couldn’t be taken seriously or wasn’t worth acknowledging because it was all idol worship and was not the path way to a happy life. Imagine having that being yelled at you at the age of 7 when you tell the teacher that you don’t go to church AND THIS IS AT A GOVERNMENT SCHOOL IN AUSTRALIA. Imagine growing up knowing that your faith is not worthy of public recognition.
Now after all these years of erasure and trying to re-claim what ever knowledge you have lost over the years of something so embedded in your identity that you have some privilege denying hack demand you (not even ask) to make a Christian friendly definition of Hinduism for their convenience.
After all these years, your religion and philosophy is suddenly made into a trend by the same people who tried to erase it from your identity all those years ago. You suddenly see all these white ladies like Julia Roberts screaming about how “they’ve found their inner Goddess”. You see fuckwits like Heidi Klum “dress up” as Maa Kali on halloween like as if she can just take our Mother’s image from us, wear Her, and discard Her at their own convenience.
Maybe the message isn’t clear enough here people. “Define your faith for me or I’ll define it myself at my own convenience”.
“I’ll wear the image you hold most sacred in your heart, an embodiment of someone colonialism has marked as someone evil and fetishised, I’ll wear her for one night and discard her like she never existed”
Do you know what we want? We want you to learn about Hinduism, yes. Well I want you to, anyway. But I don’t want you to learn about it according to your own conveniences. I don’t want you to learn about the Western friendly version of our faith where it will surely erase the history our faith and philosophy has been through. Where it will skip the impact colonialism had on it, the impact Moghul rule had on it. They way it was oppressed and the way it oppressed others. The way it still does.
I want you to learn it, and treat it like a secret. I want you to know the pain, the fear of erasure, the strength you feel when you learn something new about it. Like it was held away from you. I want you to feel knocked outta breath when you suddenly link something you learnt from the scriptures to the world around you. I want you to know how it feels like when your realise how interconnected you are with a total stranger. Like you saw God for the first time. Like you saw the universe for the first time. Like you never knew otherness existed.
Because that’s how it feels for me as a Hindu. And possibly for many others. And if you can’t feel it, at least listen to those who can.
Even then, maybe it’s too hard for you to understand.
You’re probably asking yourself “Why is thesavagesalad telling us all this? This has got nothing to do with the monkey god or yoga or finding my inner goddess or the kama sutra OR EAT PRAY LOVE. THIS IS TOO COMPLICATED BAWWW”
So I’ll give you a number
6000. Do you know what that 6000 stands for?
6000 thousand years. That’s how many years Hinduism has been around for.
6000 years, can you imagine that? 6000 years of development, discovery, oppression, radicalisation, erasure, reform oh damn I could go on forever. I mean this is a philosophy/ faith/ culture which has survived years upon years of oppression and the threat of erasure from those who’ve invaded the subcontinent for so many years. Or what was known as India before colonialism. It’s journey has not been perfect, but it’s still in motion.
And yet, after all these years of development, the pursuit of Eternal Truth ( Sanatana Dharma) and the creation of many sects, schools, divisions,philosophies and path ways to help us on to this pursuit- much of the Western World still sees this philosophy/faith of ours like it were stuck in a time warp. Like it disappeared. You call us “The Ancient Hindus”- sorry baby but we’re still here.
You treat our practices and what we hold most sacred to us with a perverse sense of exoticism- without ever thinking about how we managed to evolve these after 6000 years. What it took to protect the practices.
You treat our scriptures like fanfiction and mythology, and yet the Bible is some how more holy. Yet Hindu literature is always in constant motion. Always changing according to how society works and functions. We don’t have the One Book because it was well established all those years ago that the world would be changing.
Our idols are like dolls to you, our Gods and Goddess and what they represent are like costume to you. Our pujas are seen as cults and our dances are there for you to appropriate.
Yet they never told you that time in our history, all our faith had were those dances so it could survive another wave of oppression- for the outsider they were just pretty moves, but on the inside- they were keeping the story rolling telling us not to forget. Telling us to build it.
Yoga to you is just a bunch of fancy stretches, a pair of pants, light up the room with incense sticks and bam ~*yoga*~. But they don’t tell you about the emancipation. The liberation. The surrender. How people devote their lives to this.
Yeah, I could list you all the Gods and Goddess a lot of us worship, or the prayers that we recite. The Vedas. The Bhakti Movement. Shaktism. Vaishnavism. Shaivism. I could tell you that Hinduism is pantheist. Polytheist. Deist. Monotheist. Agnostic. Atheist. I could tell you that it’s all about reincarnation. I could tell you it’s about breaking the cycle of reincarnation. I could tell you it’s about seeing God or what you believe to be as God in every thing, living or non living. I could tell you about how we are one with the universe. How everything is temporary and all we’re left with is liberation.
But I can’t. Because these all mean different things for different Hindus. And our duty as Hindus is to find out the truth at the end- and the truth means different things for us all.
Though don’t let all this discourage you from learning about all the different manifestations of the Gods, or the Sagas and Epics with lay the ground work for our philosophy.
Now I don’t expect you to know all this or feel all this- but at least try to understand how vast this body of knowledge is. Because that’s what Hinduism is, a body of knowledge. There are even a large portion of Hindus out there who can’t even take it all in. Some of us don’t have that privilege of learning like that.
I’m not telling you to not be inspired either, or to take inspiration. I’m not telling you that have to be a Hindu to appreciate all these things, or not to adapt what you have learnt into your own life. But what I’m asking for it that you keep yourself open to different interpretations of this faith. That you don’t redefine it to make it “western friendly”. Don’t appropriate it. Don’t erase it. When you step into something to do with Hinduism, step in with invitation. Step in knowing that that you’ll be handling 6000 years of work. Treat it as such.
As for your question: “define Hinduism in a Christian friendly way”?
Remove it from your head that Christianity is the default formation of faith. To you I ask you, “define Christianity in a Hindu friendly way”
“Define Hinduism in a Western friendly way”
Can you define Western beliefs in a Hindu friendly way? Stop thinking that everything that came into the world was of Western background.
I feel quite fatigued after typing all this out, and a bit shaken. I understand and accept there will be Hindus who will disagree with what I have to say or what I believe in, and I welcome you to add what you believe in. I also apologise to hose who are Buddhist, that I couldn’t address your beliefs directly or fairly- though I know of how your beliefs have been so heavily appropriated for years on end.
Again I apologise for the rabble and the length of it, and to those within Hinduism who do disagree.
But it has been something that has been biting at me for a long time.
It feels good saying it now.
This diasporan Hindu-by-way-of-the-Caribbean agrees with you, sister.