Dx… Jungle Fever, Rx… No More Racists


Patient: Ashley F Miller

Dx – Jungle Fever

Rx – Blues Brothers, Ebony and Ivory, Kittens and No More Racists… Stat.

Avicenna Last


Snorkage indeed. I saw the post this morning. I wrote like three bloody essays on this, but I figured everyone else has flogged that horse cadaver till it resembles dog food.

If you only read my blog then you should know that Ashley has been disowned by her family for the serious serious crime of “being a jungle fever haver”. Seriously… Because she fancies a human being who is black. Okay Okay… Jokes and silliness aside…

We all are capable of prejudice, we all are capable of making decisions based on some level of prejudice. But as human beings we grow when we realise our prejudices and grow past them and be more than that. That is the definition of human growth.

I speak of this not as someone whose family has forced them to give up someone under the threat of being disowned, but of someone who was the cause of such a threat. Race plays dirty in the dating world.

I met my current girlfriend (sort of very very very long distance at the moment) through OKCupid. I thought it was the nature of the place that I never really got any messages from women until my current girlfriend pointed out that the only way she got me despite our high match scores was by her selecting “indian” on the site. I literally was hidden away at the bottom according to her.

The other thing I found out was equally horrifying. A friend proposed an experiment early on… They copied my profile and basically replaced the photos on it with theirs. We weren’t objective (we didn’t go around asking people to poll us on our attractiveness) about it but that’s all we did. In 4 years I have had around about 20 messages. Only 3 of those were people writing to me first, of which 2 were spam. I used to think women never made the first move, until I saw the alternative profile. That was getting 20 messages a day.

I speak more languages than most people (3 fluently, a further 2 functionally), I play more than one musical instrument, I am equally capable of throwing a rugby ball (I played for university and under 21s) as I am running a Shadowrun game.  I love photography and I cook better than most. I have travelled most of the planet including some places you would never dream of and all through that I have worked my damnedest to be a doctor… Because of Hawkeye (I also drink Martinis because of him).

And all that I could think of was that the one thing that caused people to not message was that they saw that I was not white. I am sure these people aren’t bigots, it’s just that they unconsciously made that decision. But at the time I was devastated. Nothing I could do would make people want me because the one thing that I could never improve was that. As an Indian you are constantly told that your skin colour is evil and that the ideal is white. To see it in action is just painful.

Again there were the warning signs of this kind of attitude. One date asked to see my passport because she thought I was dating her for a Visa. She got offended when I asked for her bank statements to prove that she wasn’t a gold digger. Let’s just say drinks were thrown, words were screamed in a public place and a dinner had to be consumed solo.

I don’t know what it’s like to be Ashley but I know what it’s like to be her boyfriend. You dread that call, you pretend to not listen to the calls slagging you off. But there are two outcomes. Either you get dumped because of racists or you get to feel guilty about being the reason why no one talks to your missus. Neither are great feelings even though you shouldn’t feel the second.

It’s happened more than once. For colour, caste and creed (too brown, too untouchable and too hindu – we should make that a T-Shirt. Artists! Assemble!) I have had people chose family over me. And I don’t blame them. You only have one family, you can always find another Avicenna. It’s sad but c’est la vie.

So what can I say? Well this is clearly a despicable act. I think everyone on the site has said that so far, so I figured I should do something a little bit different.

 

Dear Ashley’s Mummy

You are one of the luckiest luckiest luckiest human beings to live on the planet. You really are. In the four years of India I have been subject to some of the most horrific diseases and some of the most ridiculously bullshit ever. If you believe in any gods, thank them for whatever it is that gave them the whim to let you live in the USA.

The world is filled with absolute terrors and torments the likes of which you cannot even imagine because you are so far removed. I spent all morning killing and pulling maggots from a child’s face before they could eat her alive. This child was so malnourished that she couldn’t even fight off a fly. I have never even heard of this. I had to look it up as a problem. (chloroform instillation and tweezers… That’s right you have to pull them out one by one and be careful about crushing them)

It is one that is way, way too common in our world.

You live in such a pleasant world far removed from such terror yet you are the instrument of unnecessary malice and tragedy. That out of all the wonderful things you could do as human beings you chose to spend it on enabling hate. This is anger for the sake of anger. It is truly tragic. I don’t know if it’s more or less tragic than being eaten alive by flies but it’s got to be up there.

I’m sorry to be doing this over the phone, your father has forbidden me from seeing you in person.  I’m sorry, he just cannot support your lifestyle anymore, he will not be speaking to you again, he asked me to tell you.

I understand you are Ashley’s stepmother, and share no blood but do you actually think for yourself? And worse? That you cannot say something to someone’s face. I have had this conversation before, if you are sorry to do such a thing over the phone then you really aren’t. You have chosen a system where you can terminate conversation at the drop of a hat. If you are going to stab a family member do it to their face. You are already guilty of being rude about someone to the point where hanging up on them probably won’t matter. Don’t apologise for things you aren’t sorry for.

What lifestyle? Ashley isn’t living on his coin. From what I see Ashley seems to have her own life with her own income. She lives by her graft not his. You aren’t supporting any lifestyle. She is a free person and she chose to spend her time helping others and fighting for secularism and women’s health and the right for gay people to marry each other but clearly she was jumping the gun on that one considering she still has to deal with the kind of problems that people in the 60s faced.

And you are your own person. Her father cannot “forbid you” to do anything. You made the choice to support him. It doesn’t diminish you as a racist. At least her dad is honest about his racism, you are just claiming that you aren’t racist just spineless. People died so that people of colour could be considered as human beings. From Gandhi to Beasant, MLK Jr. to Mandela, they fought not to dominate the white man but to be equal so that colour didn’t matter. And none of them fought with hate in their hearts. They didn’t fight for superiority, they fought to be free.

Throw your Hatred into the Sea. There is no place for it in our world any more. There is enough pain and suffering without trying to excuse more of it.

 

Your father wants you to know that he still loves you.  But you’ve gone too far.

I am sure he does.

My aunt was beaten so badly by her husband that her kidneys failed. Not over days but over years and often for things as petty as salt shakers not lining up or for looking at another man or smiling. My aunt suffered so much and the guy’s family defended his actions as did he by claiming he did it because he loved her.

Love means being able to change if you know your views are wrong. Love means not placing conditions on those you love. This isn’t love, this is using the threat of being cut off to influence someone else’s life. And not because someone is destructive or doing something wrong, but because someone is doing something right by themselves. This isn’t love. This is obsessive control. He is disappointed that his daughter is not like him at all, so seeks to control her life. But it isn’t his life to control. The best he can do is wish her happiness.

 

Your lifestyle is just not OK with him, he has bent as much as he will bend.  He has bent so much and you haven’t bent at all.

Then he will have to bend some more. Society has changed, either you move or you sit on the sidelines. What bending does Ashley require? Oh right… You are ashamed that she is somehow not a bigot and has worked to try and help women access things like basic healthcare. That’s not bending, that’s realising that your views are wrong. We all do that. Being wrong is “okay”. Being wrong and not changing is not.

And really? You want her to draw the line at race? That would make her a terrifying hypocrite. If she did I would expect her to be followed by a flock of ravens to pull out her tongue every time she spoke. She is right, she does not require any bending.

Yes.  Your father is an old Southern man, he was raised like that, he was raised to believe that races just don’t mix.  It was the final straw.  He loves you, he just doesn’t like you.

Madam you do a great disservice to southern men. Old or otherwise. Plenty of “southern men” grew up under the american apartheid (and it was an apartheid, no less disgusting than South Africa’s) and grew past the fall of it to be better people. I was raised to believe in a lot of incorrect things but I have grown past those. It’s called being human.

He may love her but he doesn’t think black people are human beings. And we don’t tolerate such idiotic ideals. My father was raised thinking he should beat his kids. Doesn’t mean his actions are right or excusable. Being a racist is not excusable. Covering for one and excusing his racism is not excusable either.

I told him it didn’t matter to you, that all you cared about was that someone didn’t believe in God and nothing else.  But he just can’t bend anymore. You knew this would be his reaction.

I am sure Ashley cares about other things. Like the ability to harmonise with a Ukelele. And really? The Devil’s Banjo? There is a special place in hell for Ukelele players… There I said it! If you want something to hate. Hate that! It’s a tiny guitar for ventriloquist dummies making it the creepiest instrument ever. It’s also a ridiculous point score in Scrabble and you cannot build anything out of it. It is the red headed step child of the already tedious guitar family and I don’t say this as a violinist who isn’t jealous of guitars being wanted in bands but not violins. Only the recorder raises greater ire than that treble guitar.

Are you suggesting that Ashley should date people based on what her racist father would think? Or because she should date people who would make her happy. And that her father cannot put aside his hatred for one second… just for one second to be happy that she found love on this planet.

I went four years without any female contact. FOUR! Being single sucked so hard. Finding someone like (she is the author of Tiga Suku Tales) my girlfriend made me so ridiculously happy. I don’t get to see her that often but even now a text still makes me grin like an idiot. I can spend all night talking to her. I feel like I am 15 again around her and I can be as silly and weird as I possibly can. That I can go out and pull maggots from a child’s face and be kind and compassionate and not break down in tears because I know that when I get home, no matter what happened, there is someone on Skype (She lives in the UK) who makes things better. A little piece of paradise in hell.

And what parent wouldn’t want someone who made their kid feel that.

We’re not telling you what to do.  If you love him, you should be with him.  But I’m going to stand by my husband, just as you some day, if you get married, will stand by yours.  We both love you, he’s just not going to talk to you.  Maybe, in a long time, he might change his mind, but I don’t think so. I think it was too much.

You are telling her what to do. There is standing by someone and there is being a slave. Standing by someone doesn’t mean slavishly following even the most stupid of ideals. Standing by your partner is encouraging them through the bad times. It doesn’t mean enable their racism and bigotry.

We all want the same things in life. Once the basics are achieved we want pleasure, companionship, experiences and love. Love is the one that is the most elusive. Some people think they have it but never really do. Some people never have it in their entire lives.

I didn’t joke when I said I was a polyglot.

जिनके सर हो इश्क की छाँव
पाऊँ के नीचे जानत होगी।
Those who walk with their heads in love
Will always have heaven under their feet

Want to know something funny. It’s actually islamic poetry. Islamic romance poetry.

Funny right? You don’t associate Islam of all faiths with this kind of poetry. Have you ever considered why? Because of stereotypes. That a faith we associate with the brutal terrorism and sectarian violence of the Middle East couldn’t possible be responsible for such passion and love.

We are all guilty of falling for stereotypes. Ashley’s father doesn’t see Ashley’s boyfriend as an individual. He sees him as a stereotype. He sees Flavour Flav. He doesn’t have any black friends. He doesn’t know any real black people. The only ones he sees are in the news. Which is like me making my decisions about doctors by only looking at news stories (think about the kind of people who make news headlines). If I looked at News Headlines alone I would fear white people because they seem prone to serial killing, economic mismanagement, casual racism and being stupid about science. But that’s just the idiots who make the news. The news is never going to report “black person holds down job sensibly” it’s going to show some thug. Just like the show Cops isn’t going to show you two officers giving directions to lost tourists. If you get all your information like that about a culture you are going to fear it.

And the best part is. Even we are guilty about it. Just look at Mr. Flav. We don’t look at musical theory (I was pretty nerdy about music before I started on my medicine journey) and Public Enemy we learn one thing. Mr. Flavour Flav is a prodigy of music. If he was white we would be calling him the next Mozart. He is a natural musician playing Piano, Wind, Strings and Percussion. He is a phenomenal drummer and an excellent pianist. Fuck! Mozart couldn’t play three instruments. And Mozart had teachers… Flavour Flav is self taught. Genius wrapped in the shell of a wanker because sadly he was given more money than common sense. So we are instead forced to watch women try and compete for his attention rather than listen to the product of such genius. When Public Enemy were given their first record deal they were asked to get rid of the idiot with the clock. Turns out he scored most of their music and was the only one who knew “any music”. Without him there would be no Public Enemy. The band admitted as much. He was the lynchpin of Public Enemy. And we still don’t associate him with that because we cannot see past the stupid clock and his idiocy.

Do not judge a book by their cover. We teach that to our kids. Defending such an action is not excusable. If you are attempting to absolve guilt by saying that you are standing by your man then I am afraid that isn’t the case. And all this path will lead down is more hate. And by the time you realise that, all you will have is regrets.

Stand by your man if you must. But doing the right this is more important. And this was not it…

Avicenna

(For those who want to know, the lyrics in hindi are from a Sufi love song. You would have heard them if you watched Inside Man. It’s how the movie starts… Special thanks to Broca Wernicke for doing my transliteration for me.)

Comments

  1. TGAP Dad says

    I can’t believe you recommended that horrible piece of noise pollution “Ebony and Ivory!” I would rather cauterize my ears shut than hear that awful piece of tripe again. What trauma has been inflicted upon you in life that makes listening to that “song” even remotely tolerable?

    For FSM’s sake, let me help you out, young fella:
    “Does Your Mama Know About Me” by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers
    “Society’s Child” by Janis Ian
    “Hail, Hail Rock n’ Roll” by Garland Jeffries
    “Black and White” by Three adog Night
    “Pride (In The Name of Love)” by U2
    “Salon and Saloon” by Jim Croce
    “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers (NOT the remakes and covers, please!)

  2. says

    Listen! She plays the Ukelele. Ebony and Ivory is the not the song she needs but the song she deserves! Perhaps audio torture will stop her “ukelele lust”.

    Then onto Kenny G and his accursed recorder…

  3. says

    I know, I figured that since most of my readers are more likely to have heard them from Inside Man than Dil Se I should go with that reference!

  4. otranreg says

    The other thing I found out was equally horrifying. A friend proposed an experiment early on… They copied my profile and basically replaced the photos on it with theirs. We weren’t objective (we didn’t go around asking people to poll us on our attractiveness) about it but that’s all we did. In 4 years I have had around about 20 messages. Only 3 of those were people writing to me first, of which 2 were spam. I used to think women never made the first move, until I saw the alternative profile. That was getting 20 messages a day.

    This is the kind of reason I hate these dating shitholes: too much brainlessness and tribalism.

  5. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    Yes, as a very long time guitarist I have always treated the ukelele with a certain suspicion (although I’ll give a pass to traditional players). Over the past few years it’s become a very hipster-esque activity. ;-)

  6. Georgina says

    A nice long, understanding and compassionate letter.
    All that was actually necessary could have come from Ashley:

    “Your Loss!”

  7. bradleybetts says

    @TGAP Dad

    You say “let me help you out, young fella”, and then you name a U2 song!?

  8. Martha says

    This is my first time here, but I loved this post. I’m very sorry you’ve been in the position of Ashley’s boyfriend.

    One of my good friends, who is white, is married to an African-American man, perhaps the gentlest, most sincere man I know. It breaks my heart that their family had to be careful about where to go hiking because of scary encounters with rednecks who weren’t happy about their mixed-race marriage. it’s so easy to want to think the best of people, or to believe that we are past all of this, but that denies the pain of so many like you and him. And Ashley.

    I’d like to think that we’re taking three steps forward for every two back, but I wonder at times.

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