HOW MY INDIAN HUSBAND BECAME A LIGHT SKINNED BLACK GUY
On the verge of unraveling Sachin asked the gentleman, “What did you just say?”
Sachin with hair Sachin without hair
My husband, Sachin started losing his hair in his early twenties due to male pattern baldness. Confronted with the reality of having to wear a glorified comb over he looked into the hair club for men. On a College student budget he decided that the expense was not one that he could afford and so he decided to shave his hair and go bald. With this new found freedom and shortly after we started dating he noticed women of other ethnicities taking note of him and striking up random conversations. I laughed at and with him because more often than not they were much older than him. An older African-American woman even unabashedly said in my presence “he is a handsome man isn’t he? And it looks like you are fixing to secure him, girl!” We laughed until we cried for months on end about that remark.
BLACK OR WHITE
Nonethess, a couple of weeks ago my Husband was a presenter at a business conference for over 600 executives. He had just finished an exhausting panel discussion and was ready to unwind. A Caucasian gentleman approached him and said “you did a great a job for a light skinned black guy.” Confused and on the verge of unraveling Sachin asked the gentleman “what did you just say?’ Did you watch us introduce ourselves at the beginning of the panel discussion?” I’m not African-American. I’m Indian.” Looking unremorseful the gentleman said “you did a great job man.”
This wasn’t the first time my Indian husband had been confronted with ignorance displayed as only Black and White in America, however it was the first time he had been called a light skinned black guy. It was the first time that his ethnic identity had been striped from him and done so with an ignorance that was unapologetic and vulgar. It reminded me of the Hindu grandfather that was mistaken for a African-American man in Alabama. “Many in the community saw what happened in Alabama as a story of blinkered bigotry of a society that regards itself in such black and white terms it sees a Sureshbhai Patel as black just because he is not white.”
Being married to an African-American woman for my Indian husband has provided him with a swift introduction of what it feels like but doesn’t feel like to be an African-American male. Fortunately and unfortunately this occurrence will help us to prepare our biracial daughter and any other future children we have for blatant racism and ignorance. Moreover, here are some tips we currently use for coping with racism and ignorance.
TIPS FOR COPING WITH RACISM & IGNORANCE
1.) Confront it head on. Acknowledge and attempt to educate the other person or persons.
2.) Walk away if it is not worth your time. If you deem providing knowledge is and/or will be ineffective for those involved.
3.) Talk about it as a family unit.
Have you dealt with a situation of mistaken racial identity? Or mistaken racial identification? What did you do? Post a comment. Share this post! Like our content? Subscribe.
Very interesting…my son has a friend who is Jewish and dark complected. He was greeted his first day at the local elementary school with, “hola!” He responded with, “Shalom!” He is 6 years old. Isn’t it amazing the assumptions people make?
Wow! It truly is amazing!
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