I find that the term “Ethnic Minorities” is far more harmful than beneficial. Imagine, as a child my first experience of racism did not involve a white person but an Asian, Asians who argue to also be victims of racism and glass ceilings in the Western world. The term ethnic minority like all umbrella terms tends to be highly complex and problematic. It fails to take into account intragroup differences, conflicts and more importantly, interests. It also fails to acknowledge a racial hierarchy which is accepted on a global scale, with blacks at the bottom, whites at the top and everyone else in-between.
As I grew up, I was always confused about the popularity surrounding the term when all it seemed to do was impose a false sense of solidarity on minorities, focusing only on their lack of social, economic and political power in comparison to their white counterparts but discarding the differences in power held by those in the minority bubble. Furthermore, it seemed like a massive melting pot, throwing everything together. Ignoring core differences, histories, cultures and conflicts. How can you change society when you fail to look at the current social climate in its entirety?
Looking back, I couldn’t quite tell you when I realised that to be black was to be viewed as the worst. Some may argue that we can relate and gain understanding from others in the ethnic minority category. Yes, there are certain issues that transcend boundaries; Imperialism, Colonialism, Western hegemony etc that all groups can relate to on various levels. However, the intragroup differences are far to wide and in the case of blacks, damaging. We are classified as being part of the same group but in reality we receive the least respect and often other minorities will attempt to look down on us in a bid to further themselves from blacks and be closer to their white counterparts. Historically, this can be attributed to the ‘Hamitic Hypothesis”. If you haven’t heard of this, I suggest you have a read. It is quite interesting. An aspect of the hypothesis, which individuals in the past used to solidified the racial hierarchy that we have today with whites at the top and blacks at bottom, was that your skin colour determined your worth. Your skin colour decided how civilised or smart you were and how you should be treated in society. If white meant beautiful, civilised and intelligent, black was the complete opposite. I find it extremely interesting how this nonsensical theory still holds roots in the mind of people. Melanin as an indicator of an individuals level of intelligence, interesting.
The treatment and prejudices held against blacks by other minority groups, Asians and Arabs in particular is extremely interesting. This is not to say that all Asians and Arabs hold contempt towards blacks, no. But it is still an alarming majority. Although to a certain extent we have a shared experience in the Western world and can relate on a multi-dimensional level, my black skin prevents you from treating me like an equal. Sometimes I really can’t figure out if I should be shocked, amused or angered.
My generation is quite interesting, the divide and distancing is not as obvious and in some cases it ceases to exist. However, when present it starts off with stories of how their family are shocked they have a black friend, or how their family were previously scared of black people before they met you. Stories of how some distant cousin married a black person and got disowned somehow find there ways to your ears. These continuous microagressions make it more obvious that the only thing you have common is that you are both not white. One is trying to fit in with the majority, while the other is so far down the spectrum, it is has to make a space for itself.
I can’t help but feel that black people can only really rely on black people. While we run to the aid of other minorities especially in recent years with issues surrounding xenophobia, immigration, terrorism etc. Barely anyone runs to help us. I find it so funny how other races grouped in the term ethnic minority selectively recognise racism. Their own prejudices and hatred towards blacks is some how justified but when that same prejudiced lens turns on them from their white counterparts who they strive to be closer to, it becomes a problem?
We cannot build a shared identity on the premise that neither of us is white, ignoring the cultural and political differences and ambitions. The term also hides anti-black sentiments which can be harmful to the progression of solving issues within black communities and destroying this racial hierarchy. How do you expect me to find solidarity with those who would attempt to dehumanise me unless it goes against their interests? Groups want to use political blackness to further their own ambitions when convenient but leave us the moment it no longer suits their interest. The solidarity that fuels political blackness is a result of circumstance and convenience, especially in the Western world. Undoubtedly, without certain conditions this would not be the case. We need to stop addressing various issues as one but categorise them accordingly.