Why are South Asians obsessed with being white?

“Have you been hanging out in the sun a lot? Your skin has darkened by a ten-fold!” Comments like this are not uncommon if you are a Pakistani or Indian. Our culture and society is obsessed with being “fair skinned” and I always wondered why. The reason never actually struck me until my African-American friend revealed, “It’s because of your colonizers!”

She was right. Since the beginning of colonization, Europeans have brought bigotry and hate to the Indian subcontinent. The Englishmen during the British Raj treated the Indians like scum. Their racism is evident and portrayed in the British television series, “Indian Summers.” One of the first things I noticed in the opening scene of the pilot was the “No Dogs or Indians” sign posted outside an English club. To the Indians, the Englishman was not just a foreign ruler, but was someone they could also admire. The British were educated, organized, timely, and set up a highly effective system of governance (whose remnants are still present today all over the subcontinent).

This is where the complex sets in. They were handsome men and beautiful women whom the South Asians aspired to be. They could travel abroad and get educated, they could change their habits and become more organized and efficient, but what they could not change was their physical appearance. They could not be white.

Sadly, being white is considered attractive in the South Asian society, and this complex hurts women more than anyone else. In the subcontinent, arranged marriage is still a cultural norm and, unfortunately, females are pressured to look “perfect” for their suitors. Amongst other highly physical qualities and attributes, they must also be light-skinned. It’s a rough world and time for a girl whose is even slightly dark. The mothers and relatives looking for a bride for their precious sons are formidable and very frank about their demands. If the girl is not white enough (or skinny enough, or tall enough), she is bluntly rejected on that basis. This can be depressing for women and can lead to inferiority complex.

Models and actors are photo-shopped to look lighter than they are. If you ever see Bollywood actors in real life versus in the movies, you wouldn’t be able to recognize them.

While many people are standing up and accepting their skin colors and bodies as they are, it will be a long time before this deeply-rooted complex is cleared from the South Asian society. Skin whitening creams generate a large amount of business in these countries. Furthermore, almost every morning or talk show has a segment with herbal or homemade skin whitening tips. You cannot escape it.

What Pakistanis and Indians do not understand is that this complex comes from our subjugation by our colonizers. We considered them a civilized, superior, and good-looking race. This in turn led to us discriminating amongst ourselves. We divided ourselves over characteristics we saw in our colonizers, continue to do so today.

We may have gained independence and rid ourselves of their rule, but 68 years onwards, we have failed to accept ourselves as we are.

Checking In: Starbucks, London, UK

London Underground

London Underground

Hi everyone, So yes, I am currently seated in a Starbucks (what else is new?) in one of the most beautiful cities in the world — London. I moved here exactly two months ago to study for a semester, and I am so ashamed of myself for not having published a single word about my trip thus far.

My mom has been pushing me to write again, so here it is Mama. I’m online.

Let’s start with first impressions… I experienced a huge culture shock when I arrived.  Coming from America (more specifically suburban America), everything seemed to be scaled down by 300%.  Small roads, small cars, small shops, small homes.  As bratty as it may sound, it’s true.  But thankfully, I am staying with family in the outskirts of the city i.e. it’s more like my hometown with bigger homes, quiet neighborhood, cute dogs, etc. Anyways, after about a month, I have now become accustomed to the mini-ness of everything in the city, and of course the mini-ness has its own charm.  Nothing beats having tea in a cutesy cafe in Central London, owned and by a sweet family and made especially for you.  Want to grab lunch? Have dietary restrictions? No problemo. London has foods from every part of the world that meet every picky-eater’s (like mine) needs.  Shawarma? Pad Thai? Kabob? Burgers? Tacos? Chips (aka Fries)? Fish? — they have it all, usually within a few miles’ radius, and more of than not, it’s HALAL. Guys, I have been in food heaven for the last two months.

Forget sightseeing (which I do oh-so-keenly and to the great disappointment of my dear friend, Maya, also in London), all I have been doing is checking out new foods I wouldn’t be able to try in America.  I have had my first ever Halal Nando’s — it’s worth it.  Also, had Halal KFC after about a year (last time was in Pakistan last December!)

London is probably the cutest, most historical, and diverse city! But you already knew that!

I have so many pictures that I took on my Nikon while my parents were still here; will be posting them shortly!

For now, I have to run to class…. yeah yeah, that’s what I’m really here for.  Forgot about the “study” in Study Abroad! Stay tuned for more :)

May

My Nigerian Sisters

Over a month ago, 276 of my sisters were kidnapped in northern Nigeria. They were kidnapped by a group of savages who call themselves “Boko Haram.”

These beasts raided a boarding school in Nigeria where female high school students were housed so that they could get educated. These girls had to take off from school for a while prior to their abduction but had recently returned to take their final exams and finish their school year. They had taken off earlier due to the exact fears that came true on April 15: they feared they would be attacked by the extreme conservatives in northern Nigeria who are against girls getting educated.

On April 15, 204 these young, innocent girls were asleep at their boarding school when “dozens of heavily armed terrorists” opened fire inside their sleeping quarters. Boko Haram caused all sorts havoc… I am only imagining a scene from a terrible and grotesquely violent movie. They not only started shooting but also set fire to the school: complete destruction.

Amidst all the chaos, they managed to group the students together, threatened them, and “then herded several hundred terrified girls” into their “trucks, buses and vans” and “drove off and vanished.”

This is where the disturbing, saddening, and extremely painful story of my sisters starts.

They were girls the same age as my biological sisters who had similar dreams and aspirations as my own sisters. They were girls breaking down barriers, making their families proud. They were going to change their little towns, their country, their continent, and their world!

How tragic it is that 267 persons have just vanished off of the face of the Earth? How tragic it is that such an atrocity has occurred in our world today?

Boko Haram is a word in the Hausa language; it means, “Western education is a sin.” While I have no knowledge of the Hausa language, the word Haram is familiar to me as it is an Arabic word commonly used by Muslims. Haram means “forbidden” or “sin.” As a Muslim, all I can say is that Boko Haram is HARAM.

Reasons why members of Boko Haram are haram, and not Muslim:

  • They attacked innocent civilians
  • They attacked women and children
  • They attacked defenseless girls
  • They kidnapped 267 humans against their will
  • They are keeping hostage 267 girls
  • They plan to sell people as if they were property
  • They are forcing young girls into marriage
  • They have claimed to have forcibly converted the girls they abducted
  • The men in Boko Haram are currently with 267 females who are not their mothers, daughters, wives, or sisters; this makes residing with females who are not their relatives HARAM

I hope that God is taking good care of my Nigerian sisters. I wonder how they are able to sleep at nights; I wonder how their families are holding up. I hope God gives those 267 girls and their families the strength to get through this. I hope that United Nations and the United States take some legitimate, hardcore action against these savages who call themselves Muslims. I don’t think they are worthy of being called animals, for even animals are compassionate and civilized compared to these monsters. Yes, that’s what they are: monsters. And monsters go to Hell.

 #BringBackOurGirls

Reference: Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on May 3, 2014 .


 

© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

How Does It Feel to Be a Token?

My really good friend blogs about social justice issues and her very first post has me in awe. For anyone who is a minority in any way, in any part of the world — this is a must read!

Scars of Resilience

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Throughout the majority of my life, I have had the pleasure of being the “token” black girl in predominately white situations. I honestly did not find this unintentional title to be a problem until I entered high school, when I found the status to be much more problematic then anticipated. While reading W.E.B. DuBois work, Of Our Spiritual Strivings, I found myself fascinated with the concept of people indirectly asking “How does it feel to be a problem?” in regards to being African American. I found solace in this concept in regards the multiple roles I have played as the black best friend. Though no one has ever directly asked me what it is like to be a “token,” I have realized that the position of the “token” is regarded as a problem within our social standards. Now, I should mention that I have never, and somewhat still don’t, find…

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Scavenge: My Original Poem 2

Scavenge 

I scavenge for you,
Oh Dear Star,
for it has been many nights since
I have seen you
Twinkle*

Forgive me,
Oh Dear Star,
for it has been a long time since
I have talked to you.

Forgive me,
Oh Dear Star,
for I have lost my way;
Twinkle* again
so that I may be reminded again
of my Promise to you,

So that I may work hard again
to reach you.

Shine Bright*
Dear Star,

so that I

scavenge

no longer.


 

© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

The “L” Word

In my AP Language and Composition class in 12th grade, my teacher had us do various writing exercises.  Today, I was digging through old documents and found this particular piece where we were assigned to “imitate” another piece of writing.  I had chosen to imitate a portion of a speech by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.  So, here I am… sharing it with the world!


Without love in our life, we are nothing. Love is something that is unexplainable, unexpected, and uncertain.  It is an emotion that is naturally felt by every human being, one thing that we long for, but also one thing that we end up despising.  It is love that gives us a glimpse of the highs in life, and then gives us a peak into the lows.  It is love, the unexplainable feeling we get, that sometimes makes us blindly content.  Love is something that comes out of nowhere and shows us things we would normally disregard. Love makes us greatly appreciate what we do and do not have in life.

We have a give and take relationship with love.  We like to give love in many forms –we like to compliment, hug, send gifts– but we enjoy receiving it more.  This is where the balance goes askew.  As humans, we tend to like it when our lovers — whether it be our family, friends, or significant others — treat us in a superior manner.  And when we do not receive the affection we crave, we become uncertain of our relationships.  Love makes us feel many things, and in many ways.  But, if we all learn to let go of our high expectations from this euphoria-like emotion, we all may be happy.  If we decided to take what we get and give what we can, we can experience love at a much deeper level.  Don’t take feelings and people for granted, especially when associated with love.  Life is full of love, and love is essentially life. 


 

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No individual or people can achieve anything without industry, suffering, and sacrifice. There are forces which may bully you, tyrannise [tyrannize] over you, and intimidate you, and you may even have to suffer. But it is by going through this crucible of fire–persecution which may be levelled [leveled] against you, tyranny that may be exercised, the threats and intimidations that may unnerve you–and it is by resisting, by overcoming, by facing these disadvantages [and] hardships, and by suffering and maintaining your true convictions and loyalty, that a nation will emerge worthy of its past glory and history, and will live to make the future history greater and more glorious not only of India but in the annals of the world.


Eighty millions of Musalmans [Muslims] in India have nothing to fear. They have their destiny in their hands, and as a well-knit, solid, organised [organized], united force can face any danger; and withstand any opposition to its united front and wishes. There is the magic power in your own hands. Take your vital decisions–they may be grave and momentous and far-reaching in their consequences. Think [a] hundred times before you take any decision, but once a decision is taken, stand by it as one man. Be true and loyal, and I feel confident that success is with you.

-Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Address to the All-India Muslim League, October 1937


© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
Click here for Copyright information. All photos shown were taken by me. All photos are the property of wanderingderwish.com.

Selfies and The Craze of Self-Photography

Archives Mouse

A few weeks ago, General Colin L. Powell created an overnight Internet sensation by posting an image of himself, taken in the 1950s.  The image, capturing the young and dapper Powell in black-and-white, was a direct response to the “selfie” taken by Ellen DeGeneres at the 2014 Oscars.  General Powell boldly proclaimed that he “was doing selfies 60 years before you Facebook folks,” and told Ellen to “eat her heart out.”

Colin Powell 60 years ago. Courtesy General Colin L. Powell. Colin Powell 60 years ago. Courtesy General Colin L. Powell.

Besides General Powell’s Facebook post, Ellen’s selfie drew the attention of President Obama.  The President, appearing on Ellen’s talk show, seemed a bit sore that the star-filled Oscar photo drew more Twitter retweets than his selfie with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, taken at the funeral of Nelson Mandela…

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