Renowned American comedian Hasan Minhaj, who originally hails from India, tore into South Asia’s racist tendencies in a new digital episode of his Netflix show Patriot Act.
Dedicating the episode to the revolutionary #BlackLivesMatter movement that was reignited after the killing of an unarmed black man George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, Minhaj’s take on the matter has since gone viral, with scores of South Asians - Indians and Pakistanis included - lauding him for not holding back.
The 12-minute monologue starts off with Minhaj highlighting the overall issue at hand, calling for reforms in law enforcement. He then gets to the Asian community, especially in the US, for thinking #BlackLivesMatter is not their responsibility and an American issue only.
“Asians, we love seeing black excellence. Obama, Michelle Obama, Jay Z, Beyoncé... how could we be afraid? We love black America. Yeah, on screen. But when a black man walks into your living room and God forbid wants to date or marry your daughter, you call the cops,” he said.
Talking about looters that ravaged small businesses as a part of protests earlier this week, Minhaj again exposed the other side. “Clearly, there are a lot of people who own small businesses and are feeling the pain. ‘Why are they doing this? Yeh pagalpan kia hai? (What is this madness?)’ And I understand that frustration. Especially when you think about the countries we come from. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Palestine, etc…”
He continued, “Depending on when you immigrated, you came to this country (US) for order and stability. We don't want it to be as messed up as back home. But imagine if you lived in a country where the colour of your skin got you killed? You would say that is a lawless country.”
The star also questioned why revolution in America is so hard to fathom for Asians, even though they come from places where “throwing stones at tanks” is normal. He cited various uprisings like the Intifada, Hong Kong protests, Arab Spring, Myanmar, Indian CAA/NRC protests and the Tiananmen Square incident.
“We can’t seem to fathom that the same knee of oppression that kills in Gaza could be the same knee of oppression that killed George Floyd?” Minhaj stated. “Look, I can’t say what it’s like to be black but I know how we (Asians) talk about black people. If someone in your family is dark-skinned, we clown them. We call them ‘kallu’. Bollywood stars do skin whitening commercials so we don’t look black!"
"It is bad to be black in desi culture, even though we all wish we were black. You don’t think that affects how we view black people? Almost 20% of Muslims in America are Black. But we don’t even like praying at the same mosques!” he shared.
He then went on to highlight what is perhaps the most important reality that many Asians have chosen to ignore. “We’re in this country because of the civil rights movement. The only reason so many of us are here is because of The Immigration Act of 1965. Because of that one signature, Ammi and Abbu (mom and dad) were able to move to the US,” Minhaj explained.
“I can’t get the photo (of the cop on George’s neck) out of my head. The officer who is blocking people off is Hmong-American. The guy who owns the store? He’s Arab-American – his clerk called the cops on Floyd. That is America! A black man was murdered in cold-blood and we were on the sidelines watching. I’m not saying we were the ones who killed George Floyd. But we have to be the ones who pull that cop off his neck!”
Minhaj added, “When you became an American citizen, you don’t just get to own the country’s excellence. You have to own its failures too. This fake woke stuff on Instagram dies out in a week. We can’t just knock out racism. We have to help win this thing on the cards. We have to donate our money and time to black organisations. To all the doctors – offer free healthcare to protesters. Tech people – help black businesses get online. You work in IT? Set up a router. You passed the bar? Work pro-bono for protesters. Everything helps.”
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ