I have a Muslim friend who would every so often tell me that “Brown is the new Black”. This would be after telling me of some discrimination that some Muslim person had experienced. At first I was amused and would laugh when he made the comment, but after a while it would annoy me. He would rant about the increased “racism” Muslims now faced since 9/11. Although some of the situations were blatant acts of discrimination, most I would characterize as “inconveniences”, that we as Black people have had to put up with for ages. But I guess it comes down to what you’re used to having to put up with.
He repeated the comment to me one day and I finally had to “school” him that in no way could Muslims claim that their current experiences were in any way comparable to the racism and challenges Black people in North America faced today. I told him of a story relayed to me by a Black friend of mine who worked at a prestigious law firm. There weren’t many “people of colour” there, but she noticed how the “brown” people… the Muslims and East Indians… rarely associated with their Black co-workers, until after September 11th, 2001. The “brown” people were quick to socialize and sit everyday with their “white” co-workers in the lunch room, but she noticed a chill had developed between the “browns” and the “whites” on September 12th… and the “browns” then became very friendly and found the desire and time, to want to sit and socialize with their new found “Black” brothers and sisters.
I also reminded him that Muslims weren’t very supportive of the civil rights struggles of African-Americans… nor Caribbean/African-Canadians for that matter… and that chattel slavery of black-skinned Africans, whether they are Muslims or not, is still widely and openly practiced today in some Muslim countries in Africa, like Sudan and Mauritania. Although European involvement of African slavery is well documented in western history, not as well known is that Muslims also enslaved and depopulated Africa just as much and as harshly. So as far as I am concerned, “Black is still the new Black… and the same ole Black… all rolled up into one”. Now that Muslims find themselves “under the eurocentric and racist microscope”, trying to equate and legitimize their new struggles by associating it with ours… just does not compute. Simply put: “We don’t want them!” He never made the statement to me again… and yes… we are still very good friends.