The other day, I was trying to research “dating among Indian American teenagers” for a class project. Instead, I accidentally found an article entitled “5 Reasons Why You Should Not Date Indian Girls” by Matt Forney. I clicked on it, thinking it would surely be a joke and, sadly, it turned out to be a real article. Included were lines like “Every Indian girl I’ve ever known secretly loathed her ethnic heritage, wanted to be white, and fetishized white men to a degree that was downright creepy.”
The first comment was a guy who completely agreed with the article…and it had 598 likes. There are over 2,000 other comments on this article, and most of them agree with the author. This led me to hypothesize that even more people read and agreed with it.
It’s weird to be the person who an article like this is talking about. I’ve read many articles infused with racism and sexism, but most of them haven’t been quite so blatant as this one. The article was so inaccurate that it was difficult for me to be personally hurt, but its surprising popularity made me sad.
The popularity was a clear reminder to me of how easy it is to mask the racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism—whatever it is that leads to hatred—until it reaches such extremes as the article I found. Unchecked privilege lets people silently fear others, systemically categorize them as good or bad, and rationalize our advantages away.
Even if our words aren’t blatantly hateful, choosing to not face our privileges allows our self-centeredness to fester until we are blind to others, and until we eventually buy into racist, sexist and generally hate-filled rhetoric.
Systemic and generational sins, like racism and sexism, are monsters that feed off of our privilege and our denial of injustice. I believe that the author of the article wrote what he did and had so much support because he blinded himself to this monster.
I also believe that the complete denial of privilege that led to his reasoning is why people like Donald Trump are winning the hearts and minds of the American people. It’s why we can numbly watch and share videos of police killing black teenagers and still argue about what they did to deserve it. It’s how we blur the lines of what consent means to the point that it’s easy to explain away rape and sexual assault. It’s how we rationalize tearing families apart through mass deportation. It’s how we turn conversations about the relentless torture of the Syrian people into a conversation about our own safety.
Our privilege lets us shut others down when they attempt to talk about the oppression and marginalization they’ve faced in their lives. And it’s what lets us manipulate those people into thinking that they’re just pulling the race card or offended by everything, when they’re simply trying to share their realities. It kills our ability to empathize.
The answer to this is more nuanced than we think. It’s important to expose extremes so that we can understand root problems, which is why I eventually shared the article on my Facebook page. On the other hand, exposing the extremes sometimes gives hate rhetoric more visibility than it actually needs, which can lead us to gloss over rhetoric that isn’t that extreme as being completely free of prejudice, privilege and sins like racism.
To combat this, it’s important for us to do what we are not naturally inclined to do, which is to humbly listen to others and accept that there are some factors about our lives that we can’t control-that we were born into which give us an advantage or disadvantage over others in this society and world. And we have to be willing to understand how these factors in our lives play into deeply embedded sins that continue to hurt God and others.
The lies that led this author to write such a hateful piece against women like me are the same lies that lead us to exclude others at JBU. It’s long pasttime for us to stop believing lies, to see ourselves as whole, messy realities of who we are in our contexts and to work towards the reconciliation of sins that are tearing us apart.
Adolph is a senior majoring in family and human services. She can be reached at AdolphS@jbu.edu.