I originally wrote this as a Facebook post, Friday May 26th. Several people contacted me after trying to share it only to find they could only share the video but not my words. So I’ve turned it into a blog post which can be shared, words, video and all. I do hope you will as it’s a message I feel strongly about, a message I believe needs to get out there. Despite the many likes and positive comments from those who got it, there was inevitably a troll who misunderstood me, viewing the post as a vehicle for self-pity, telling me to get my priorities straight and accusing me and the whole of social media for not letting families grieve by our apparent insistence on instantly diverting attention towards ‘the dark-skinned people making it all about us’. So for the record, that is not at all what this about. In fact, quite the opposite. The post was written to open the eyes, ears and hearts of the very people like the keyboard warrior I mentioned. This is not a ‘my suffering is worse than your suffering’ competition. In any event, we all know that the people suffering the most in this senseless ‘war’ are the ones losing their lives, their health or their loved ones to the attacks. I’m a writer and if this post can educate one person who then educates another and so on, then that is one small but positive thing I can do in the midst of the madness we are engulfed in. #WeStandTogether
This was published before the shocking London Bridge/Borough Market Attacks. My sentiments are of course the same.
I generally keep it light-hearted on the blog and Facebook and frankly, finding myself fighting back tears isn’t how I like to start my Friday.
But it’s been a week for the tears hasn’t it? So I feel the need to share this.
As the child of first generation immigrants myself – like the man in the video below – I totally relate to what he is saying. After 9/11 happened, many of my Indian peers and Sikh relatives went through a very hard time. Attacks on Sikhs took place because they were mistaken for Muslims (by bigots unable to tell the difference between the turbans worn by Sikh and Muslim men, bigots who assumed every Muslim person was evil and that we are all the same’ which in itself is a flawed view) and close relatives of mine went through hell when travelling on public transport, trying to get served in a cafe. Nervous looks, racist sideswipes, uncomfortable shifting from others became an everyday norm.
I’ll never forget being out one night for a celebration in a lovely London hotel and one of my male relatives came back from the bathroom, his face fallen and his expression absolutely wounded. A guy next to him in the lavatory had made a derogatory comment about his turban and a reference to 9/11. One bigoted idiotic remark that took seconds to leave the guy’s mouth wrecked everyone’s night. We thought we’d left behind the mental and emotional injuries of having grown up in the 70’s and 80’s where ‘go back to where you came from’ was a standard phrase and violent attacks carried out on Asian-owned businesses were a common occurrence. Shall I emphasise how hard people worked to start and build those businesses? We didn’t lay about and rely on benefits. My father almost had a fit when I suggested signing on to get unemployment benefit when I initially couldn’t find a job after leaving university. He was adamant that nobody in our family would ‘shame themselves’ by relying on the state instead of just using gumption and grit to work.
9/11 and the many atrocities since then: London, Brussels, Paris, Manchester to name a few have taken us back to that mentality with an unwelcome heartbreaking suffocating crash.
This same relative from the hotel bathroom incident no longer knows what it’s like to travel to the USA without being stared at uncomfortably by other passengers or being pulled aside at immigration and I’m not even going to list what else he – or in fact my own husband who doesn’t wear a turban but is presumably ‘just too brown’ (?) – have endured since.
With every malevolant attack by these nutters, thousands of British-born Asians’ hearts sink. Why?
Because we know WE JUST KNOW that there will be many more people (already of a narrow-minded nature who are then further stirred up by certain tabloids whose agenda seems to be to incite hateful ignorance and fear knowing that their easily-led readership will lap up every word) who will be looking at us more nervously, making more sideswipes, shifting even more uncomfortably standing next to us in some shop, airport queue etc.
Yet the overwhelming MAJORITY of British (indeed American born) Asians – be we Sikh, Hindu, Muslim – view these attacks with the same contempt, disbelief, despair and shock as everyone else does.
When Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma bombing, when various ‘white Western’ maniacs have carried out school/public building massacres etc have you noticed how their religion/ethnicity isn’t mentioned? Does everyone suddenly start mistrusting all white people? No they don’t. Do all white people feel they have to walk around hanging their heads in shame on behalf of ‘their people’? No they bloody well don’t.
It’s the most tragic double standard there ever was. This isn’t an exaggeration. This isn’t distortion of facts or seeing things that don’t exist. It’s the way it is. It’s the way it’s always been.
I can’t even begin to imagine what today, tomorrow, the day after that and so on will be like for the families affected by the #Manchester tragedy. Entire lives, innocent lives shattered in a senseless war that has no end but just continues in one enormous vicious circle. I just cannot contemplate having one of my kids blown to bits like this. I don’t know what level of hate I might feel. Emotions are running high, most of all for the families affected. What I do know though, hard as it is for some people to absorb, is that you can’t tar an entire race/religion because of the actions of the minority. Yes I know, with the frequency of attacks, it may not feel like the minority and admittedly we have no idea how many terror cells exist but they don’t act on behalf of all Muslims.
The man in this video is PROUD to be British. And at the same time PROUD of his religion. I may not be religious myself but I respect his right to be proud of his religion and not have to feel ashamed of it. And this man is aching right now for those families. He is bereft. The nutters don’t act on behalf of him or his people. He and his community want no part of it. And every time…EVERY time an atrocity takes place and is attributed to a Muslim, he and innumerable British Asians of all faiths and religions are ashamed. We shouldn’t feel this way but we do.
So I totally understand his words and his tears. And on this beautiful sunny Friday morning that I should have started ages ago with laundry and 20 other chores, I am sitting here crying with him.
We are not the same as the maniacs. #WeStandTogether
The consequences of these tragic events are heartbreaking in different ways. Of course for the immediate victims and their families, but then also for the rest of society. Hatred and violence breed more hatred and violence and fear suppresses freedom. Some people feel justified in expressing their bigoted views and contaminate those ignorant enough to be sucked in. It would be just as much of a tragedy if we let fear and hatred dominate us – the only way is to unite in love and tolerance. #coolmumclub
That is SO well put Ruth.
Beautifully written and educational. I asked my son to read it too. Thank you Prabs.
Awww I love that you thanked me!! Thank YOU for getting your son to read it. That’s beautiful.
It really saddens me that other humans’s / people / men / women / communities are made to feel like this. I hate that colour and religion are brought in to the argument because like you say we all condemn these actions regardless of our background. We are all suffering and we should all stand together x
Sharing this. One of my dear friends is Muslim, her parents immigrated from Pakistan and worked incredibly hard to own a business, which they eventually had to close after a violent racial attack left her father disabled. It breaks my heart how ignorant people can be so narrow-minded and hateful. You’re right, white shooters/terrorists don’t get treated the same by the media, it is so wrong. xx #coolmumclub
That is awful. Thank you for sharing.
I grew up in an area where Asians were in the majority. As children, we didn’t see race or colour or religion – we were just boys and girls in the same class – friends, like peer groups in any other school. It makes me so sad that the media is determined to tar all Asians, all Muslims, etc, with the same brush. My upbringing taught me that we are all the same under the skin.
…And yet, I can see how so many people end up believing the lies – we are fed them all the time from so many different sources. I am sometimes shocked when I hear the opinions of people who I consider sensible, kind individuals, and yet they are spouting out this hate and prejudice that they’ve been fed. It is so sad… #coolmumclub
Thanks for the lovely comment. I do find it amazing how people believe the lies though. I know we’re living in a time where the hate is almost understandable and yet I don’t know how people give in to that.
So beautifully put Prabs – by both you and that guy. xx
Ah thanks so much Sarah
This post is amazingly written Prabs, I really hope people take notice and listen to what you have said. We definitely can not blame an entire race or religion for the actions of the minority, it is such a shame that so many people do. I wish more than anything we could live in a world where hate is no longer and love and peace is the norm ..overlaps one day xx #coolmumclub
Thanks Wendy. Oh you and me both. I sometimes think John Lennon must be turning in his grave that the message of Give Peace a Chance still hasn’t go through.
I love this post, and I am so sorry for the hate you and your family have endured. Please know that I and millions of others love you and will stand with you against hate. #coolmumclub
Ah thanks Nicole. I didn’t mean it come across as a pity party but just a sort of educational eye-opener as it were. Thanks so much for reading.
Powerful post. So heartbreakingly true. #StayClassyMama
Thanks so much Bri.
Such a beautifully written post in only the way that my blog wifey can – I stand by every word of yours thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub xoxo
You’re a darling. Thanks so much for the support x
Oh Prabs, when I read this post on your Facebook page I found it incredibly moving and heartbreaking. We can’t let this campaign of fear divide our society. We must remain united. We have to believe that love that conquer hate. We have to have hope. xxxx
Thank you lovely. It’s all we have really isn’t it?
I have no understanding of the world as we live it now. I am saddened and scared for you and your family. I am scared for mine too. When will people realize there is just ONE human race. When will we celebrate our differences, not condemn them, shatter them… Looking for hope. <3 #dreamteam
Ah that is so well put Lisa!! Beautiful response. Thanks for reading.
I always say what the man in the video is saying – really & truly the terrorists are not of a religious group, they are ruining the lives of so many through killing but also through putting a bad slant to the Muslim religion. It’s such a shame that your family has to deal with narrow-minded comments. I hope that a period of love will come soon to the Earth as it’s really sad the way things are now. xx
I’m almost lost for words Prabs. The world is a terrifying and uncertain place at times and we absolutely need to stand together.
You raise such a valid point: “Does everyone suddenly start mistrusting all white people? No they don’t. Do all white people feel they have to walk around hanging their heads in shame on behalf of ‘their people’? No they bloody well don’t.” I don’t know how or what will bring this campaign of fear to an end, but I’m convinced that we are stronger when we stand together. Powerful and thought provoking as always. Thank you for sharing with #DreamTeam x
Ah Dawnie I yes think the lost for words thing has been universal. I didn’t know whether to write it but I also know I had to. Thanks for reading.
I shared this on my personal FB page as I hope all my friends will read it and take note. It’s a fantastic and very timely post. (But I totally wish it hadn’t been necessary).
It’s not in the same league, but each time one of the high-profile members of the more conservative wing of the church gets wheeled out and tells everyone that Christian values include hating gays and people of other religions, making as much money as possible and getting women back into the kitchen, I cringe. Not all Christians are the same either.
oh sweetie we live in sad times where the rhetoric is just so wrong isn’t it? thank you so much for sharing.