The racist within us

Is it fair to call a foreigner "gora" when we cringe at being called "brown" or "Paki"?

Saadia Qamar January 21, 2011

It’s sad how we don’t want to be called racist and how callously we use the word for others, even though there lies an evident mindset that we as a nation harbour a feeling of division deep in our hearts — not only amongst ourselves on regional lines but even at a global level.

It’s obviously offensive for Pakistanis to be called “brown” or to be more precise, “Pakis”. Nothing could be more offensive to us.

But I could never measure it, in the true sense of the word, until the time I called an American friend of mine “Gora sahib”. Strangely, I didn’t realise that I was doing the same thing —discriminating him because of the colour of his skin that he did not opt for.

Fortunately, he made me realise my mistake. We often assert that as a nation we are, at an international level, frequently the target of a backlash and labelled in a derogatory manner.

However, we fail to accept the fact that at the end of the day we do the same, even if it is an unconscious gesture.

We fail to accept our faults and hardly pay any heed to our public and private behaviour in general. For us what matters is our pride — which must not get hurt. But when it comes to belittling others, we feel little or no remorse.

I believe such behaviour stems from insecurities, which lead to fear.

Eventually, that fear turns into hatred and we, as human beings, stand divided.

We need to pause, reflect and then admit our fault. I feel the world, especially today, could do with even the slightest bit of tolerance.

So, let’s start from here — in Pakistan. After all, we will only be treated the way we treat others.

Saadia Qamar
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