Antiblackness and British South Asians – some cultures are to be judged, but others are not

BP-emeritus Zach posted this piece on Twitter, ‘I’m Bengali, my boyfriend was black – and my mum freaked out’. The piece highlights the reality that anti-black prejudice, in particular, is pervasive among South Asians (Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, etc.). I’m not super invested in the idea that this is due to colonialism, as I doubt it is. But we all know this is objectively a true prejudice. And the article highlights it in many ways.

But I want to point out another aspect of the piece: many of the warnings, whether racially motivated or not, by the young woman’s family, turned out to be true. In the piece, she notes she had already had one abortion at 18, and now was refusing to at 21. That’s obviously her choice, but her boyfriend had apparently impregnated another young woman at the same time. Finally, “She had another child with the same partner, who later walked out on her for good.”

So she’s left in her mid-20’s to be a single mother. This is almost certainly one of the major worries of the woman’s mother and her relatives, even if they were racist. In England, 24% of black families are single-parent households, while 8% of Asian families are. Asians in England (this means South Asian) may be antiblack as a culture, but black Briton culture is partly defined by a level of family instability which horrifies people from traditional Asian cultures.

I think this near the conclusion is important:

A few months ago there was an interesting development in the family – Salma’s brother started dating a black woman. And to Salma’s surprise, her mother accepted it without hesitation.

“That’s progress for a woman who had never recognised or challenged her anti-black attitudes before,” she says.

“I’m so proud of how far she’s come, although we still have more to go.

“I don’t blame her for thinking the way she did. But it was time I challenged it. It’s time we did as a community.”

One interpretation here is that Salma’s mother is no longer racist. But another interpretation is that Salma’s brother picked a far better person as a romantic partner than Salma did. Throughout the piece the father of Salma’s children is a stand-in for a race, but what if her relatives and her mother knew exactly the kind of man he was going to be? What if they were very worried about the decisions Salma was making in large part because they were worried about her?

I am willing to bet Salma’s brother’s girlfriend raises some eyebrows. I doubt the racism disappeared in a few years. That’s a real thing. But I strongly suspect she is just a much better potential match.

These sorts of stories mix personal stories and social issues. Honestly, I think this is the story less of racism and more of an irresponsible young man and woman. They got pregnant twice. She chose to keep the baby and tried to maintain a relationship with a man who was cheating on her the whole time, to the point of impregnating someone else.  There’s more than just racism going on here.

18 thoughts on “Antiblackness and British South Asians – some cultures are to be judged, but others are not

  1. Cheating should be destigmatized, especially for historically oppressed minorities. The memory of colonial dominance induce them to rebel against social strictures, including forced faithfulness to partners.

  2. Hitting the nail the head. This article shows what’s wrong with the modern religion that you reference

  3. Interesting that only 24% of black british families are single parent. In the US that aligns with the figure for whites, whereas black american are at ~65%.

    1. In the US that aligns with the figure for whites, whereas black american are at ~65%.

      I find that number a bit horrifying. I suppose this is even higher for African-Americans once you remove the figures for immigrants from Africa?

      Is a strong two-parent family an ideal most black Americans even wish to have or is this why BLM type movements call for an end to ‘western nuclear family’?

      Also probably explains why Republicans keep going on about family values. I knew that a lot of black families were single parent but still trying to process 65%.

      1. Something like >70% of black kids born out of wedlock. But overall, across races, the US has really high figures, even for whites. Once you filter out immigrants and the traditional set that live in better neighbourhoods, poorer black communities give the feeling of being completely fatherless.

        1. Girmit, the current out of wedlock birth rate for multi-generational black american mothers:
          —below the age of 25 is 91%
          —Overall, including rich, upper middle class and college educated is 78%
          The divorce rate for multi-generational black americans is 78%.

          BTW, the out of wedlock birth rate for caucasian americans below the age of 25 is 60%. However among non blacks out of wedlock birth rates and divorce are heavily negatively correlated with all socio-economic outcomes for which statistics are collected (that I am aware of).

          Looks like Salma’s family was right about her first potential husband being a low quality mate. In general I think Indians are open to high quality black spouses. Especially if said spouse adopts Indian culture, and for spiritualists India’s spiritual culture. Such a marraige would raise culturally Indian children and for spiritualists, children raised with Indian spirituality.

          I know of many Indians marrying non Indians. And it generally works great when the non Indian (of both genders) adopts Indian culture. Which means they can authentically be many different cultures at once. Nigerian + Gujju + Tamil for example.

          1. I think Nigerians have a good reputation among Indians. But some Africans don’t. Somalis for example.

            The “racism” might not be against “black people” or “blackness” but against some specific sub cultures and ethnicities. It requires a far more detailed subtle analysis to uncover.

            Indians in general respect people who have ancient advanced sophisticated cultures and civilizations. The African continent has many such.

            Black Americans have many subcultures or sub ethnicities and they are each regarded differently. Coleman Hughes (I know this is a cheat . . . having immigrant ancestry) for example would deeply impress the large majority of Indian families. Expecially given his strong Buddhist and meditation practice. A younger Dr. Erec Smith too. I think most Indians would also love a young Wilfred Reilly.

    2. I was surprised at the UK 25% figure being so low as well.

      I think that’s around the US non-Hispanic white single parent family figure for comparison.

  4. Earlier she thinks her mother is being hypocritical for accepting “three white women [who] had married into the family”. But the fact that she also accepted a black woman indicates that the issue might be men vs women. The men in her family can’t very well get knocked up and left with a baby to raise on their own.

    I would also note that 24% doesn’t seem all that high by American standards.

    Another thing: did Bangladeshis living under British colonialism even think much about black people at all? I wouldn’t think there would be many around then.

  5. Reading about subcontinental-origin social issues/mores on any BBC article or news production is basically an exercise in examining the garbage bin – trying to find anything useful – for example – a hastily discarded cigarette butt or a half eaten apple. Halfway through the article, you realise you are bathed in the tramp-like aura that the BBC wants you to be comfortable in.

    I let out a good howl when I read the lines – “Salma found out her partner had been with another woman the whole time and that she too had just given birth. It was as though her mum’s worst fears about black men had come true, her stereotypes confirmed.” Modern Dickensian shit right there!

  6. Many stereotypes are true, on average. Racism is obviously a type of stereotype and so we shouldn’t be surprised when racist stereotypes are true. What is the alternative to racist stereotypes being attempts to identify average truths based on racial appearance? Socially constructed lies intended to demonize and exclude outgroups? Does that work? What’s an example of a racial stereotype that’s inconsistent with reality? One race of people having completely irrational evil views about another race by virtue of… that race’s evil irrationality?

    I’m thinking out loud here, but actually I think the best argument for racial stereotypes not being consistent with reality is when they are based on limited, biased-sample information. For example, people have dim views about Africa based on media coverage. It’s war, famine and majestic animals in the eyes of many. If you visit, you have a very different experience. So extrapolating this to the US, if your only exposure to blacks is crime in your local news, rap (old school) and athletes getting in trouble, you might have have a huge upward bias in your perception of black criminality. Basically it’s a denominator problem that leads to an upward bias in estimation.

    1. I strongly recommend you get exposure to black culture by settling in Detroit, Chicago, Newark, St Louis or other American cities with a large black population.

  7. Chicago is already one of the American cities with the highest percentages of South Asians. But geographical concentration within the city being what it is, that doesn’t necessarily mean that much exposure to black culture.

  8. This piece keeps mentioning big scary “RACISM” over and over, with the absolute certainty that it was a factor. It seems far more likely that the family realized that their future black daughter-in-law was a high-quality person and the future black son-in-law was a lowlife.

    There is ZERO evidence that racism was a factor at all! This is exemplified by the grudging concession that the “RACIST” Bengali mother was completely right about the guy!

  9. I knew this rang a bell:

    Mississippi Masala is a 1991 romantic drama film directed by Mira Nair, based upon a screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala, starring Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, and Roshan Seth. Set primarily in rural Mississippi, the film explores interracial romance between African Americans and Indian Americans in the United States.

    It was Nair’s second feature film and fairly early in Washington’s career as a film actor (he was already established in TV).

  10. Racism logically exists. A fair share of Humans, even within same race, for their manipulative nature are not by far trustworthy. Let alone an individual grown up in a less familiar environment. Therefore, I would not blame South Asian societies, that emphasizes the family values, for cultivating racism to some degree. Nonetheless, I agree with Razib there’s more than racism in this piece. Two young people’s malpractice produced the obvious outcome, but weren’t they deceived by bad parenting? Otherwise, why on earth the black guy would become a cheater and the bengali girl a fool.

  11. @ Razib

    Know that this isn’t the place to ask this but when will the next open thread go active. I wanted to learn more/talk about the Vodafone-Idea situation

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