June 29, 2020

Indians are being held up as a model minority. That’s not helping the Black Lives Matter movement

By Indians are being held up as a model minority. That's not helping the Black Lives Matter movement

London (CNN)“White silence is violence.” It’s a simple but powerful message shouted at Black Lives Matter protests around the world, and it marks a major shift in expectations: it’s no longer OK to just not be racist, you have to be vocally anti-racist. If you’re not, you’re part of the problem.

But what about brown silence? Just as people are being told to acknowledge their White privilege, calls are growing louder for South Asian diasporas, particularly Indians, in the UK, US and Canada to check their brown privilege and speak out against anti-Black racism.
This tension has arisen in part because some Asian groups are still being held up as “model minorities,” celebrated for achieving higher levels of socio-economic success than others, often even the White majority. It’s an old tactic that has proven to cause more harm than good, but it’s one that is still very much in use.
The problem with the practice is that it pits ethnic minority groups, which could otherwise be allies, against each other. It perpetuates stereotypes in and outside the group and, worst of all, it gives governments, companies and institutions of power a mask for their own systemic racism. It completely ignores the fact that one minority group may face very different challenges or levels of racism than another.