Hi Guys. Today we need to talk about something that has plagued me for most of my teen and adult life. People assume my brown skin and straight hair translates to me either being hindu, tamil or muslim. Dear white people, I am an Indian (RACE) and I am a Christian (Religion). When did race become synonymous with religion? It’s 2017. We should be more aware and educated of the fact that I could literally practice any religion I please, and assumption of religion based on skin tone is simply unacceptable!
Ok, vent sesh out of the way, lets get real about this…
So while on honeymoon in Bali, a sweet white lady almost choked on her egg noodles when she saw my husband and I ordering food from a cute little restaurant that she exclaimed “sells pork”. To which I responded, in my best newlywed voice “Thank God for pork”. Needless to say she was confused and sat there eating her noodles while staring at us in complete disgust. I wondered if she even understood why Muslims don’t eat pork or why some Christians do eat pork. Then I wondered, do I even understand? Perhaps these incidents help us self reflect. Well at least for me it does but this only happened recently. I’ve been a mad, brown girl for ages! So as much as it annoys me, I try my best to look at the situation from different angles. Can we really blame her for her ignorance? Could I just have shrugged it off as a ‘tourist’ thing? Yes and yes! Yes, I could blame her for being ignorant. If you have a travel guide as big as the Bible on your table, you probably have access to the internet and a few books. Educate yourself! And yes, I could completely dismiss these people or I could chose to educate them and in some cases, educate myself too. Needless to say, the moment we landed I grabbed a copy of Religion 101 by Peter Archer.
You wear a turban? You must be Muslim! How’s the fast going?
I’m not going to pretend that I knew how to answer this question in the beginning. My muslim family have and friends that are in Hijab have made me respect and appreciate modest dressing so much and have been the biggest fans of my turban looks so I guess I was less tolerant of other people asking me such stupid questions.There’s no such thing as a stupid question you say? Oh yes there are. After researching my butt off I realised that the headscarf originated from Judaism and some dominations of Christian women wear the headscarf as well so technically if I had to justify the whole turban thing from a religion perspective, I could. But do I want to? No. I love the way it looks from a fashion perspective and I hate washing my hair, so score, right?
I could talk about this for ages. So even though I’ve had some really weird, explanatory sessions about my skin colour and my religion, I’ve begun to appreciate these moments where I get to teach and learn. Because often the questions are so puzzling it forces me to research things. No point in trying to teach if you aren’t as clued up yourself right?
A small word of advice though, NEVER, and I mean NEVER assume that someone MUST be a certain religion based on their skin colour or the clothes they wear. You could really offend someone. Rather just ask. There is nothing wrong with asking what religion someone practices but don’t lead with something like “hey, they sell pork here” or “Can you bring me sweetmeats from your Divali celebration”. Let’s strive to educate ourselves by leading with positive questions and answers. From one brown girl to another, if you experience the same thing, have a little patience. Before you react with “oh no you didn’t!” or sarcastically like I did with the lady in Bali, just take a minute to explain to them that your skin colour doesn’t mean you are of a certain religion. You will probably educate one person who will in turn educate their family and the chain will just continue until we have an enlightened human race that respects all people of all colours and all religions (God willing!).
Love & Joy
T-Shirt and Jeggings: Cotton On
Sweater dress and boots: Daily Friday (Superbalist)
Distressed Jeans: Mr Price
Photos by: Hemisha Bhana Photography