By Misbah Farooqi / Editor-in-Chief
The fight for racial equality is far from over. In order to achieve full equality, minority communities themselves must be united. Yet, a lack of solidarity and unity exists within black and brown communities today.
Why? Because people of color (POC) often do not support and uplift their own people.
Meaning, when POC see a fellow person of color succeeding in a field that deviates from the “norm” or “acceptable” field (such as those related to STEM), they often criticize or judge the person without understanding the others’ aspirations and goals.
Being a Pakistani-American Muslim woman, I can only speak from my own perspectives and what I have witnessed in my community. I have seen that when other Pakistani-Americans or Muslims, especially women, decide to pursue a field or goal other than what is stereotypically considered to be the “norm” or “acceptable,” they are criticized by the community, rather than supported in their efforts to enter a different field.
In my own community, it is typical for individuals to be pushed towards careers in medicine, engineering, and the sciences, while those with aspirations in the humanities, liberal arts, and entertainment fields are deterred from pursuing those paths.
By criticizing those who differ from the stereotypical fields, more harm than good is done and those individuals are only deterred from their goals. Why would you take a more difficult path when you don’t even have the support of the community you claim?
In the long run, this only leads to slower progress for all minority communities and makes the fight for equality even more difficult. As POC, it should be our goal to encourage our fellow POC to break glass ceilings, speak up in spaces where their voices are unheard, and create a world in which the term “minority” does not have to exist.
Rather than judging someone else for what they enjoy, we should strive to empower and uplift our fellow POC and encourage them to pursue fields that are typically white dominated, such as business, politics, or entertainment.
Supporting one another does not have to be a difficult task. It can be as simple as buying from black-owned businesses or sharing an article written by a Muslim journalist.
Support in terms of offering advice, words of encouragement, and optimism are also crucial and necessary. POC should be the first ones to tell their fellow POC that they can make it as a successful Congressman or actress, and shouldn’t be the ones to tell them that it is “a white man’s world” or that they should “know their place.”
On the flip side, those who have “made it” in typically white dominated fields should also inspire their communities and create more opportunities for people of color to be in spaces in which they are traditionally not welcomed. Rather than priding oneself on having entered a white dominated space and deterring other POC from following the same path, these individuals should serve as mentors and inspirations for their communitiities.
For example, Chicago based rapper Chance the Rapper is a notable figure who has sought to inspire those from his community and give back to them. He has been an outspoken advocate for the residents of Chicago and has even donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools to makeup for the lack of government funding.
It is necessary for POC to support one another like this and have a voice in all fields, as representation is necessary for the passage of progressive legislation and policies that support POC and allow for a world in which systematic oppression and inequality does not exist.
Only when POC are united together and properly represented, that is when progress towards equality will be made.