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Token Human

(Mar 24, 2008)

by Nadia Niaz (republished with permission) 

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you hear of something awful/upsetting/annoying/stupid happening in a foreign country or a community thatís been in the news a lot. You, in your wonderfully informed and astute way, watched an ABC special or read an article about this culture/community in the Economist, both of which are respected institutions. You might even have worked with this girl who was dating someone from there once - you know because she brought him/her round for drinks once and you had a lovely 15-minute chat. So, armed with your indignation about said event and your vast body of knowledge on said culture, you a) declare your indignation and/or b) proceed to locate the nearest person belonging to that culture and demand an explanation.


Well Iím tired of being that chai-colored person you immediately go to for that explanation. I have yet to meet an Australian who can give me a thorough, nuanced historical explanation of the political and symbolic importance of last weekís Apology to the Aboriginal peoples. I have yet to meet an American who can, at the drop of a hat, explain why Americans donít want to vote for a woman or a black man and how the fuck a bible-bashing lunatic who wants to destroy the Constitution is even being considered as a potential presidential candidate or what the fuck Scientology is. But then I wouldnít ask them why their societies are so fucking racist and sexist and homophobic and downright illiterate. Oh and xenophobic too. Gotta love that xenophobia.

Why? Because as it happens, the individuals I know from these countries are not any of those things. Or, if they are, theyíre open-minded enough to challenge themselves a bit and get the fuck over it. See, Iíve lived there. Sure thereís some bad stuff, but mostly, Iíve seen good stuff. Decent people, good friends, intelligent conversation, that sort of thing. If I did have a question though, you know what I would do? Iíd go look it up. Iíd go read. Gosh, I might even watch the news for more than five minutes. And once Iíd figured out what impact, if any, it might have on my life, Iíd go do something else.

Personally, I donít give a ratís ass what you believe, who you fuck, or what you eat. I would appreciate it, though, if you would extend me the same courtesy. I am not the spokesperson for all things Pakistani, Muslim, Islamic, South Asian, female, queer, Pakistani + female/queer, Muslim + female/queer, Islamic + female/queer or South Asian + female/queer. I donít care how fucking concerned you are about those poor benighted savages whose plight you feel so deeply for that you must make asinine statements about their Ďrightsí and Ďfreedomsí while ignoring completely that there are people on the ground from those societies working the asses off to actually make a difference. You have the gall, instead, to feel sorry that you canít do more, because obviously, nothing will ever get fixed until you get your big fat pink ass over there to really turn them into beggars. Fuck. The angst must be unbearable.

And donít for a minute think that this isnít also addressed to the fucking desi morons who make equally stupid assumptions about people cultures that they know nothing about. They pity you folks too, and in much the same nauseating way. Tsk tsk. All these women having babies by themselves, without even a maid to help. Poor old man dying alone after raising five children. You know, they put him in a nursing home! Oh you know them, no families or religion or values or anything. Wonder how they survive, poor things. Oye stay away from them - you know theyíll fuck anything that moves. It wouldnít happen if theyíd just get married when their parents told them to.

The only difference is whose words get heard more. I have the enviable good fortune of traveling between these two poles of stupidity. In Pakistan, Iím trying to explain the big, bad, warmongering, female-exploiting West, outside it, Iím trying to explain the evil, fundamentalist, female-oppressing Islamist world.

Fuck that.

No I donít think America-the-Asshole is right. No I donít think bloody goat-raping Al-qaida is right. No, Pakistan is not part of the goddamned Middle East. No I donít think there is a Zionist conspiracy. No I donít fucking cover my head and I never will. No I am not oppressed. No Iím not gay. No Iím not straight either you fucking moron. No I wasnít taught any Islamic creation myths. No I wasnít taught that men are better than women. No I do not speak Arabic. No Urdu is not my first language. No I donít defer to my little brother, to my father, to my husband, or to any random idiot male on anything relating to my personal freedom. No Iím not Indian. No I donít fucking want your approval for speaking my first language so well or for being so Ďprogressiveí. No Iím not Ďexoticí or Ďfascinatingí (youíre fucking ignorant). No I fucking do not need to apolo-fucking-gize for being from wherever it is you think Iím from or whatever it is you think I am.

I do not owe you a fucking explanation.



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Copyright© Nadia Niaz, 2008, All Rights Reserved

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