How To Survive As A Brown Person In the U.S.

Dalip Saund Singh
Dalip Saund Singh: First person of Asian ancestry to be elected to the U.S. government (Image taken from Google)

After the attacks in Paris and San Bernandino, there has been an increase in the number of hate crimes against Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, and South Asian Americans, from mosques being burned to even Gurdwaras vandalized.

It’s clear that suddenly, us brown folks are experiencing the blow back of terrorism.

So I figured it’d be prudent to share some tips for my Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans on how we can prevent these things from happening to us:

TIP #1: When exiting your home or apartment, make sure everyone around you is comfortable and feels safe. I recommend letting everyone know you’re not part of ISIS by either A) yelling it at the top of your lungs “I AM NOT ISIS” as you walk down the avenue, or better yet, B) Make flyers with your image (preferably a picture of you smiling) and write I AM NOT ISIS as the header, and of course, post them everywhere in the neighborhood. This is meant to alleviate concerns that you, as an American who practices a different faith, are not one of “them.” Also, distributing free copies of Gone with the Wind (it’s a shaadaa classic) can be helpful. It shows you understand their culture.

TIP #2: When a terrorist attack takes place, and you see it happen on TV or over the internet, please, please, please phone your neighbors and tell them, “This is (insert your name). That was not me. I condemn ISIS. I condemn terrorism. Would you like a free copy of Gone with the Wind?” That usually helps soothe the tensions. That or some rice pudding.

TIP#3: ISIS is a terrible organization. They kill, maim, and torture thousands of innocent people. Yes, their victims have been mostly Muslims. But that’s neither here nor there. Main thing is: ISIS is scary for God-fearing, white people and we must do everything in our power to keep them safe and pure, like snow. When you do see that there’s been a new attack that’s happened or CNN is going on one of their 24 hours binge on “how ISIS will kill us all”, it is very important that you again pick up the phone and call your friends and tell them to get in touch with ISIS so you can give them a piece of your mind about what’s going on. Yes, most likely, your friend will be confused and tell you, “Uh, what? Dude, why aren’t you at the Gurdwara yet?” But do not lose focus. Simply say, “Pass the message along to ISIS” and hang up. Eventually, as more and more of us do this, ISIS will surely get the message and stop their murderous reign. I’m pretty sure that’s how white people solved racism in the U.S.

TIP#4: If you are in a shopping mall, or anyplace crowded, you don’t want people around you to be fearful. They’re just good patriots buying up the latest Apple Watch or Snuggie (are those sold in stores?). So best thing you can do is wear a sign around your neck, like a placard, that reads, I AM (insert name), U.S. #1. This will be your lucky charm. Your protective orb. Very much like the American flags we put on our front lawns after 9/11 happened. And of course, since then, none of us had experienced any sort of racism or Islamophobia whatsoever. It was only after these recent attacks and that’s cause people don’t know how kind and sweet and amazing we are. Again, carry copies of Gone with the Wind in your back pocket at all times.

TIP #5: This is probably the most important piece of advice that I can offer up for you all. For this, I want you to print this out at the crappy printer at work or at college or wherever you go for free copies, and after that’s done, take this copy, and cross out Tips 1 through 4. Or better yet, after you read these final statements, flush this down the toilet instead.

These are indeed crazy times we are in. But I hope that you continue on your days, going to your mosque, to your temple, to your Gurdwara. I hope you continue living your life, finding romance, heartbreak, and all the experiences in between. That you go to work with your turban on. That you go to the latest Star Wars movie with your friends and cheer as loudly as you can when you see the opening credits. That you look into your girlfriend/boyfriend’s eyes, and tell them how glad you are to be alive. You and her, and him. All of us. Being ourselves. Not apologizing for our hijabs, our style of food, our own brand of American culture, like so many others who came to these shores centuries earlier. Living the way we want to live. Despite the harassment, the prejudice, the seething rage that follows us like a dark cloud. Remain you. Be defiant by doing the simple things, such as going outside, taking a deep breath, and recognizing that you are here, your body and soul. Start a band. Make some art. Speak up. But do not ever lower your head. Do not ever think you are lesser. You are grand. Epic. Your thoughts can create heavens on Earth. You, after all, are all of us. And all of us are proud to include you in our collective spirit. You have a nation of brothers and sisters going through the same things, who are with you at every step. You are not alone. You are loved.


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