But You Don’t Look Afghan?
Oh, that skin-crawling, gut-wrenching, piss-off of a statement myself and my countrymen get from time to time. One time, I got, “But you’re not dark.” Ok moron.
Look, I know the media makes us all look the same. I know that from an outsiders standpoint, Afghans are just brown people with brown hair and brown eyes and brown skin.
And there are many Afghans who fit that phenotype. BUT GUESS WHAT. THERE ARE ALSO A LOT WHO DON’T.
This post was inspired by something really stupid that happened last night:
I saw a really ignorant comment on a friends post. She is an ethnic Pashtun and gets mistaken for white, European, Anglo, whatever the hell you wanna call it. Well, she was wearing traditional clothing in the picture and someone who presumptuously thought she is “white” commented, inquiring if she was “culture-appropriating”.
PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT. NOT ALL “BROWN PEOPLE” ARE ACTUALLY BROWN. Many, and I mean MANNYYYYY of us come out with “white” features. My mother was born with red hair, my youngest aunt with blonde, and my father with green eyes. And these features are NOT limited to Afghanistan; Iranians, Arabs, Desis, pretty much anywhere in our region, there are MANY people who wouldn’t get a second look from TSA.
“White” looking Afghans are not a phenomenon, they just don’t fit the stupid Western stereotypical phenotype of “those people over there” and so, are gazed at in awe.
Well, get the hell over it. For Gods sake, WE PUT CAUCASIAN ON OUR DOCUMENTS. They exist. And here are some pictures to prove it.
Then there’s those on the other side of the argument. Those who whitewash our histories and constantly put up pictures on their FB and Instagram pages of ONLY Afghans who have red and blonde hair. I have seen countless “Afghan pride” pages on Instagram with photos of people who look nothing like me. Why you tryna fit in so bad? Why can’t we celebrate the diversity of ALL Afghans, no matter their hair or eye color?
But I guess I understand that desire to “prove our whiteness”. Technically speaking, Afghans are Aryans, Caucasians. This fact is really only known to the people from this region, and it still weirds me out that I put “White” on my records. BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS.
My points, summed up:
- People need to understand that the media tries to box Middle Eastern and Central Asian Muslims in little stupid categories and looks. They do this to further a racist, policing agenda thats pushed by colonial, military governments. They do this so it is an Us-versus-Them thing; as in, “See! the enemy looks nothing like you!” But SURPRISE! As these pictures show, the “enemy” can look just like you, and ya daddy.
- Race is socially-constructed. In high school I used to love reading about the different “stocks” of people and was so about that Aryan life. I used to always love throwing it out there that Afghans were “white”, because it challenged people’s notions of race. But after I did a DNA test and found my ethnic makeup to be tremendously mixed, I got over that shit. I could care less that we’re Caucasian.
- However, this does not mean we must abide by the fixed stereotypical phenotype the Western media has imposed on us. If, for educational reasons, we must dig into and prove our “white” past – so be it. If that means some ignorant moron who thinks we all look like Osama will open their eyes to our diversity, then I’m all for plastering photos of blonde Afghans all over social media.
- All of this should not be done to put our brown brothers and sisters down. Afghans have all sorts of skin tones – and they’re all beautiful. I tan my skin on purpose for Gods sake. Many Afghans have dark skin too, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.
Afghans are some of the most phenotypically-diverse people on earth. As the crossroads of empires, along the Silk Road, and as the heart of Asia, of course we’re all gonna look like a United Colors of Benetton ad. When our non-Afghan friends get this, then we’ve made a small stride towards breaking the stereotype. And that’s always good.