Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

From DCentric: Brown, black, racism and relationships

Photo by (Creative Commons)

One of Multi-American's sister blogs on NPR's Argo Network, WAMU 88.5's DCentric in Washington, D.C., had a thought-provoking post yesterday on brown-on-black racism.

The short of it: Blogger Anna John, who is of Indian descent, had written last week about her exchange with an African-American taxi driver who was interested in John's ethnicity because she had a half-Indian niece. The post drew several comments, including this one, below, which in turn inspired yesterday's post.

From the reader, American RogueDC:

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.

Heartbreaking, yes. And, sadly, par for the course, as John writes:
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.”

Both posts candidly explore where our varying shades and backgrounds take us in human relationships, and are well worth reading. So are the comments.