But what will the community think?!

padma and russell simmons.JPG

Ah, Padma.

Padma, Padma, Padma.

Potentially Mallu (I thought you were TamBrahm!) beauty, accomplished author and Television ish-tar, you speak so uniquely and that takes some talent. What sort of talent, I haven’t a clue, but I’ll credit you anyway, because I’m fond of you like that.

A few years ago, you made every Desi man’s heart beat a little bit faster, from the joy of the improbable occurring; if a supermodel would marry an award-winning, uber-protective, “distinguished”-looking author, then everyone had hope (as long as they did something extraordinary. Or had a looooot of paisa). It was the ultimate Revenge fantasy and that’s exactly what it was, because the dream, it died. You and the man who defended your intellect, who insisted that you were being shortchanged by the focus on your outsides, you are…kaput.

So, what to do, except to follow the well-established mores of our culture. You don’t recall? I am happy to remind. Now comes the time when you cast your eyes downwards, marinate in the somber reality of failure and wait an appropriate time before you are back on the scene, the ultimate “Innocent Divorcee, no issue”. It is imperative that you be seen alone, that you not be photographed with strange men touching you, because if a potential groom from Madras or Bangalore sees that, chee, vat he vill think?

So it is paining me, Padma-akka (chechi?!) to see you emulate the controversial example of that Sarita Denzel Masala of Mississippi, especially since you chose to do that in the front row of the Marc Jacobs show, where everyone could see you! Aiyo! What’s the one thing your Amma told you, edi?

“Don’ bring home a Kala or Muslim.”

Stop lying, you aren’t special, she totally said that. [Aside: whenever I hear that oft-repeated phrase, I wonder what would happen if one chose to bring home a KALA MUSLIM, but I digress]. I’m well aware that all of our parents ignorantly shouted this rather nonsensical order at us, in an attempt to be helpful (though I’m sure for our Muslim friends it was “Don bring home a Kala or a Hindu!”, since the hate goes both vays).

So, what are you doing? Yes, this Russell, he is healthy, wealthy, wise. He does yoga. He is a vegan (unlike you! Naughty, naughty omnivore!) and he seems kind. BUT. He has two children! And his ex-wife will smear Vaseline on her face, take her bamboo earrings (at least two pair) off, hand them to her assistant and then CUT YOUR ASS UP. Have you not seen Life in the Fab Lane, starring Kimora Lee Simmons? Put down the bong and pay attention: you should be terrified!

Worst of all, when I was watching the Today show this morning, I saw your “friend” Russell. He was wearing his “uniform” of baseball cap, sweater, shirt, jeans, sneakers. Ek tiny problem: there was an OM symbol on his jeans pocket. Now I am both Christian and a quondam lover of status denim (Diesel, Blue Cult, James et al), so I am just slightly, less offended than half of those who are sure to comment AND I get that the kundi pockets must have some elaborate design on them, to show people you have rs.5500+ to burn on a pair of pants which was once worn by the working class…to WORK, but I was taken aback when I saw that, much as I was when I viewed this commercial. Someone who is so entranced with our culture should know better than to put a sacred image on a back pocket!

Om on pocket? Home with two kids, and a fiercely mean ex-? Far too friendly hand on your leg? What are you thinking? Who will want you, if you continue with such shenanigans? They will burn you in effigy, I tell you. Or worse. They will call for strikes. The sweatshops in Bangladesh will stop stitching Phat Farm and Baby Phat crap! There will be chaos!

I only say all of this to be nice. I am concerned for you! If you ask me, you should try to be more homely and make sure you fast on Fridays for a good husband; perhaps your kinda-boring cooking show can tape on other days? Vatewer. I care, so I advise. I am like this only. You should be, too. Hangari!

Photo via NYT. A big, juicy “thank you” to Rumor Monger, for the tip. :)

415 thoughts on “But what will the community think?!

  1. gives us some intersting background that lends credence to some of the allegations.

    That Malcolm was “chosen” for his skin color?

    Malcolm X came to realize that the Nation of Islam perpetuated a racist, colonialist perspective of Africa and its people

    This is a money quote, and it corroborates with the statement from his autobiography:

    “I must be honest, Negroes-Afro Americans-showed no inclination to rush to the UN and demand justice for themselves here in America.. The white man has so thoroughly brainwashed the black man to see himself as only a domestic “civil rights” problem…” (autiobiography, p371)

    But this has nothing to do with your earlier [false] claims

  2. HMF:

    you never addressed this quote form JSTOR (that I linked to earlier). are you familiar with the paper?

    “… explained that Elijah Muhammad named the light-skinned Malcolm to his first important post in the Na- tion of Islam because of his “complexion’– …”

    But this has nothing to do with your earlier [false] claims

    after all this evidence is presented, you still feel confident asserting that malcom’s rise in the NOI was due,in part, to his fair skin as definitively false? I thought you already conceeded that it was likely the NOI harbored the same colorism as black soceity as a whole did, and now i’ve presented evidence that they went even furhter. are you changing your position again?

  3. I thought you already conceeded that it was likely the NOI harbored the same colorism as black soceity as a whole did, and now i’ve presented evidence that they went even furhter. are you changing your position again?

    I did concede that, but I dont see how this is “going further” though. The article you presented states that the NOI & Malcolm bifurcated in terms of black asiatic vs afro-american, as the thesis quotes:

    “…examining the origin of and apparent shift in Malcolm’s self-identity, from black asiatic to afro-american, helps us understand Malcolm’s post NOI political philosophy”

    Not sure what this has to do with light skinned, unless you’re saying Elijah Muhammed’s lack of attention to the African people is somehow indicative of colorism.

    As for the other link, its a pulled quote without full context. I have indeed heard this before, but I chalk it up to the Chicago leadership’s jealousy, and finding any kind of reason to put Malcolm down internally. The NOI was in part responsible for his death, I’m sure they’d have no issue circulating rumors that he was chosen primarily, or even significantly for being light skinned.

    …and I’m not paying to read the entire article. I dont like you that much.

  4. that malcom’s rise in the NOI was due,in part, to his fair skin as definitively

    I’d say his rise in terms of being contacted by white media might be connected to his fair skin, which might in turn fuel more popularity internal to the NOI (especially after the Brother Johnson incident, when the media first saw the FOI in action)

    But I thought you’re original point was him being chosen picked in part due to fair skin. And it’s that point I contest (if you mean in part, as in “a significant part”, signficant enough to mention anyway), and thats the point you’ve provided tenuous, minimal evidence to support.

  5. This is a money quote, and it corroborates with the statement from his autobiography:

    HMF, your quote form the autobio is rather peripheral to the central point this scholar makes. so let me spell it out. first these 2 quotes form Malcolm regarding elijah:

    You cannot read anything that Elijah Muhammad has ever written that’s pro-African. I defy you to find one word in his direct writings that’s pro-African. You can’t find it.
    He was as anti-African as he was anti-white.

    and the authors conclusion:

    Malcolm’s revised understanding of history was not exclusively a recognition and condemnation of the mechanisms of colonialism. Malcolm realized that the Nation of Islam’s genealogical myth deprived members of the truth about their African origin. Noble Drew Ali and Elijah Muhammad internalized racism to the extent that despite attempting to subvert racist ideology, they appropriated it. Malcolm X sought to revolutionize Black historiographies, rather than merely manipulate the European versions already in place. His comments concerning Elijah Muhammad’s treatment of Africa in his teachings show that in his last months Malcolm was also critiquing the Black Nationalist tradition from which he sprang.

    i have been making the deeper argument that malcolm was not elijah, that he had more integrity, that he was evolving toward mlk, toward a more liberal philosophy, and away from black nationalism. and that the NOI philosophy was a mixture of pride and self-hatref all along, so the various contentions that Malcolm may have patially benefited from his light skin within the NOI are not all that unbelivable, once one gets past a superficial understanding of the movement.

    but how far Malcolm would have eventually evolved we sadly will never know.

  6. unless you’re saying Elijah Muhammed’s lack of attention to the African people is somehow indicative of colorism

    yes, that’s what i’m saying

    if you mean in part, as in “a significant part”, signficant enough to mention anyway),

    no, i did not mean “significant.”

  7. I get what you’re saying, by the way, according to Michael Eric Dyson, MLK was also influenced by Malcolm’s words as well, I’d argue they were moving towards each other. I’ve already given you quotes that show MLK encouraged black people to relish their black identity, and use it as a source of self-determination. I don’t completely equate black nationalism with ‘black superiority, yacub nonsense, etc…”

    yes, that’s what i’m saying

    WEll, I dont buy it. I think EM was just pandering to the crowd in some sense, he knew his constituents would not be too up on reconnecting with the African peoples. EM himself made a trip to mecca (where he changed the names of NOI facilities from muslim temples to muslim mosques), but didn’t alter his thinking in the same way malcolm did, because he was more concerned about power rather than realizing the truth.

    no, i did not mean “significant.”

    Significant enough to mention obviously. There, I can’t agree with you. state law.

  8. 387 taal

    a) the closest thing i got to that advice was that american girls, in general, were no good. this was principally from extended family members.

    b) my family and my wife get along extremely well. i am a christian and so is my wife. having the same religious background really helped, but mostly it was how long we were together–we started dating in high school. during those years, my wife and my family grew close and she was basically considered a daughter-/sister-in-law long before we were actually married.

    c) i was born in india, but grew up in the states having come here at a pretty young age.

  9. “If you say so. Not worth arguing. btw, are you really an RRS feed?

    I dont know what that is.”

    I meant RSS feed. Still wondering….

  10. thanks for the response BB. i actually knew a couple like the two of you when I was in high school. they were very popular love birds and no one at school ever seemed to care or notice that she was african american or he was indian :)

    on another note, i just found out that i have the chance to see padma’s ex, mr. rushdie, speak next week. i will let you guys know the deal if i have the chance to go!

  11. Interesting thread. I suppose I’m going to be a the desi half of a brown-black couple since my fiance is African American…and we’ll have (God-willing) beautiful “half-breed” dark brown children with curly hair :-)

    Oh,…and Anna, I too was told not to bring home a “kala” (karamban, in malu-speak) or a “puerto rican” or a “hindu” (being raised in a Catholic home)…. Needless to say, my folks are pissed…and to top it off, my sister married a Hindu! Aeyooo…What to do, yaar?

  12. Don’ bring home a Kala or Muslim.

    Well, I brought home a Black woman. And sure, they had a heart attack, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have two sons now, and my parents have calmed down considerably. Her parents were not enthused about their daughter marrying an Indian, especially one who doesn’t have a corporate career. Problems regarding our union were mutual; my parents assumed that her parents weren’t professional, so my family nearly died when they discovered that her dad was a third generation doctor. Her folks were pleasantly surprised that my family didn’t own a 711. Talk about ignorance coming from both families. I think many desis assume that middle and upper-class African Americans do not exist; Of course they do not exist in large numbers, but I nevertheless they exist. Her family get-togethers have been eye-opening; everyone is professional and educated. I feel like the odd one out, but not because of my race.

    ImNotBeingFunny, for someone who lectures Indians on a color complex, would you care to lecture AA women on all the straighteners , weaves and extensions when they can be black and proud. What is wrong with those 70s Afros?

    My wife wears a small curly afro from time to time, but she also wears her hair straightened and occasionally with a hair piece. She’s just a woman changing her hair when she feels like it, and frequents a blog about natural hair care. My sisters iron their hair on a regular basis with flat irons, so I don’t see much of a difference in my opinion; just women expressing their female beauty. My wife is proud to be Black, and her hair is just a part of her, just like her race is just a part of her.

  13. LOL sam, more power to you and your sis! i think the lesson for parents who harbor such feelings is … silence is golden :)

  14. Padma is not so hot looking. I’d say everyone blogging on SM is at least on par, if not better looking than her, from what the little I’ve seen.

  15. The desi “no kalas, no muslims” rule springs from I think perceived behaviour of those two groups of people, rather than skin color (in the case of black people).

    If for instance, black people were world reknowned for their high intellect (like Jews) or for their professionalism, I think the rule would be non-existent. I’m not saying all Jews are neccessarily intellectual geniuses, but the reputation, deserved or not, is there. Similarly, black people also have a certain reputation, deserved or not, as also do Muslims in this day and age. On top of that there is a long-standing, painful history between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Desh which does not help matters much.

    Many desis are darker than many black people and many of them ending up marrying desi partners of similar shade, so we know that it’s not just the color of the skin that put this “rule” into effect. Like Vijay stated above, there is a certain assumption about the culture and way of life of black people that contributes to the prejudice, or which has even created the prejudice to begin with.