Pakistani Racism against Pashtuns: what it’s like hearing that a Pashtun man killed 10 relatives

The article below was originally published over at MuslimGirl.Net, titled “Misogyny Doesn’t Come from ‘Pashtun Culture.'”

As a Muslim, I find it agonizing having to write about and recognize the injustice so prevalent in so many Muslim societies—mainly because of the role of such violence in inviting more Islamophobia and assuring Islamophobes that their bigotry is well in place. It’s worse when you’re an ethnic minority almost everywhere (except in Afghanistan) because you’re Pashtun, and you’re marginalized in virtually all spheres of life, and then suddenly, so many news outlets, major and minor, are talking about the barbarity of your culture and people. I’ve written about the marginalization of Pashtuns in Pakistan on my blog before, so I won’t go into details about that here. For now, I want to reflect on a possible reaction to the most recent act of misogyny that a man who shares my ethnic identity has just committed: homeboy killed ten of his relatives because he wanted to marry a girl whose father couldn’t yet afford the marriage and asked him to wait.

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The desire for white children and grandchildren

One of my closest friends is a black American, and she and, being a Pakistani Pashtun as well as a Muslim American, I share a ton of things in terms of some of our experiences with racism, discrimination, and other layers of marginalization (the discriminations I’ve faced have been nothing compared to what she faces, though). She’s Muslim as well.

Recently, our conversations have been mainly on racism and being black and being a minority in America. When we’re not talking about that, we talk about boys/men, relationships, marriage, our careers, etc. The other day, I told her that I need her in my life and we need to make sure that wherever we end up living, we end up neighbors or at least in the same city. She said, “Yes! And! We could even make sure that your son/daughter marries my daughter/son (if our children are heterosexual).” So that’s a deal. Then I said, jokingly: “Wait … that means there’ll be black blood in my grandkids” and made a face. “Listen, I’m not sure about that. I just feel like I want my kids to be really, really beautiful and marry really, really beautiful people and have really, really beautiful children.” And she played along with me and we went on talking about how we can make sure our kids are as white as possible. Because white skin is obviously better and more beautiful than non-white skin, as the entire universe will have it known to you. (Needless to say, this was all in jokes and we are both sickened by the preference for white over darker skin in so much of the world.)

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