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
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Amjad | 11 years ago | Reply Some bigots call Arabs Sand Niggers and "Hajis" as a bad name in America. Other citizens from Muslim nations have bad names associated with them. Why should we care that some British have derogatopry names for us? After all, they had to demonize us after they took over South Asia from our rule. This is only a logical way of justifying taking over another people. Racism has been around for a long time. Look at how Jews were treated by Europeans for the last 2000 years. Read Shakespear from the 1600s which is only a mild taste!
Rehman | 11 years ago | Reply Paki vs Shakespeare Cockroach Irish people hate the English and they now call them, "Shakespeare Cockroach" and Britain as, Cockroach Britain. Both these remarks are new & are being regularly used by the Asians against the English. For more information, google, "Shakespeare Cockroach" and "Cockroach Britain" and read the articles about the subject matter. Rehman London
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