Dear Hindus for Trump,
When they slam your father’s face against the ground, they will not ask him if he is Muslim or Hindu. When they point a gun at your brother’s face, they will not ask what a Sikh is. When they curse at your mother or grandmother for speaking in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu or whatever else, they will not care to know the difference between a dupatta and a hijab. And when they spray paint “go back, Paki” on your family business before burning it to the ground, they will not listen as you scream through your tears that you are Indian. To them it makes no difference. They will see our brown skin, and for them it will be enough. And you will be left to pick up the pieces, to stitch your loved ones back together, or bury your dead and go on pretending to be okay.
But this is not okay. Now more than ever we need to be united and this means addressing the Islamophobia in our communities and addressing the toxicity of the India/Pakistan relationship. Hindus for Trump and the Shiv Sena and other right wing Indian groups have long pretended that India was some shining civilization before the Muslims invaded. And they look at America and the Middle East and see the same thing happening, so they support demagogues like Trump. But what they fail to understand or see (and perhaps it’s being unfair because many Pakistani’s also don’t want to see this) is how Islam’s interaction with Hinduism and Sikhism has led to some of the most beautiful parts of both Indian and Pakistani culture, from architecture to poetry to music, food and fashion. Qawwali for example was born from the interaction between Muslim Sufis and the bajan’s of the Hindu bhakti movement. And later, when Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sang qawwali, he often sang Sikh hymns. “Some call Him Ram Ram, some Kudha, some Gusain, some Allah.”
But what do I know? Maybe what I think doesn’t matter. You would never qualify me as a real Indian anyway. To you I’m just some silly little ABCD, brainwashed by American liberal propaganda. After all, I don’t live in India how could I possibly not see that the source of all India’s problems are those Muslims and untrustworthy Pakistanis that send terrorists and drugs over the border every single day? It’s true, I don’t know all the complexities of India Pakistan relations. But here’s what I do know. I know my aunt smuggled herself into England after the 84’ riots because she had seen a Hindu mob tie up her Sikh neighbour with his own turban and set him on fire. I can hear the echo of that man’s screams in her voice as she says “I couldn’t sleep” when she’s up late at night, cup of tea in cradled in hand. I know my grandfather watched his village tear itself apart as Hindu neighbour turned against Muslim neighbour, and he fled with what remained of his family during Partition. I know he still thinks about the brother that he lost. I’ve seen the tears in my dad’s eyes when my brother said he wanted to cut his hair and let go of a legacy my dad crossed an entire ocean in an effort to keep alive because my brother’s tired of being called a terrorist. This is so much more than Hindu vs Muslim vs Sikh or Christian. What I know is that we have all been hurt and we are all hurting.
That terrorism that you’re so quick to label “Muslim” or “Pakistani”- it affects people and children in Pakistan as as much if not more than people and children in India. I’d like to think that when the Taliban attacked those schools, we all prayed no matter to what God or in what language. Whether we did puja, knelt on a prayer rug or did ardaas, it shouldn’t have mattered. What matters is that we should’ve been united. We have much more in common that we do different. We have a common enemy and it’s not any one religion, it’s white supremacy.
Now more than ever is the time to strip the blinders from our eyes and finally realize that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we work, no matter how flawless our English, no matter how much money we have, or how many advanced degrees we’ve earned, in the eyes of the white man, we will never be his equal. It is a fact. Ask Steve King who had the nerve to go on MSNBC and say that nonwhites have never made a contribution to civilization equal to that of the white man. Muslim or Hindu, as long as our skin is brown and our names are difficult to pronounce, we will still have to work three times as hard for the same reward. We have to be three times as good. The white man does not care for you. When he is done using us as his precious model minority or rallying the ignorance, fear and hatred in our communities, he will turn on us. He will fight to protect his privileged place in America and when that privilege is threatened, he will mistake equality for oppression and attack. And he will win. He did win.
It’s time to end this. It’s time to call out those in our communities who seek to divide us based on nationality or religion. It’s time to call out the colorism and anti-black racism in our communities. It’s time to call out the sexism and patriarchy we see around us on a daily basis. It’s time to say we are sick of a system that pays women 70 cents on the dollar and women of color even less, that undervalues work performed by bodies of color and yet has the nerve to say the words “stealing our jobs”, that swallows up entire Latino and black communities into the prison system and where a college education is not only becoming increasingly inaccessible to young people but also the very right to which people of color have is being questioned repeatedly.
Dear Hindus for Trump, Muslims are not our enemies. Pakistanis are not our enemies. The white supremacy is our enemy. Let’s dismantle that shit.
This article was written by Rae Dehal. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Mens XP