Muslim Indo-Caribbean Marginalization
Muslim Indo-Caribbean Marginalization:
In Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Caribbean, West Indian, Indian, South Asian and Muslim Spaces
Written by: Karimah Rahman
This article will serve as the second article in a four part series entitled Marginalization of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans and why Muslim Indo-Caribbean Thoughtful Representation is so Important! All the articles in this series can be viewed as pieces of a puzzle that would not be whole unless all are read to give proper context to the marginalization of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans.
Muslim Indo-Caribbean voices are regularly marginalized, silenced and invisibilized in Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Caribbean, West Indian, Indian, South Asian and Muslim spaces due to problematic ‘purity/authenticity’ politics. Muslim spaces are overwhelmingly represented/equated as Middle Eastern, predominantly Arab as the default since Arabs are viewed as the ‘authentic’ Muslims due to Arab supremacy where many experience Arabization. Caribbean and West Indian spaces (especially in the English/French/Dutch and Danish-speaking regions) are overwhelmingly represented/equated as Christian and Black/Afro-Caribbean as the default, leaving Muslim Indo-Caribbeans invizibilized as not ‘authentic’ Caribbeans or West Indians (or not Caribbean/West Indian ‘enough’ due to being both Muslim and Indo-Caribbean). South Asian/Indian spaces, culture, history are overwhelmingly represented/equated as Mainland South Asian/Indian(1) (coined Rahman 2018) as the default, where Mainland South Asians/Indians have a superiority complex and are deemed the ‘authentic’ South Asians/Indians, leaving Indo-Caribbeans deemed as ‘impure’, ‘polluted’ and ‘bastardized’. This is so problematic, especially since there would be no South Asian Heritage Month without the Indo-Caribbean community, who can be attributed to its existence, by advocating, using grassroots mobilization and lobbying for an ‘inclusive’ celebration of South Asian culture in the South Asian Heritage Act, 2001 in Ontario, Canada. Part of this problematic marginalization, silencing and invisibilization of Indo-Caribbeans in Indian, South Asian and Indentured Diasporic spaces is due to their retention of a lower degree of South Asian/Indian languages (ex: Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Urdu, Tamil etc. with the exception of Suriname where Sarnami is spoken)(2) under colonization compared to other Indentured Diasporas and compared to Mainland South Asians/Indians. What I coined as The South Asian/Indian ‘Authenticity/Purity’ Hierarchy Theory(3) (Rahman 2018), Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy, Mainland South Asian/Indian Privilege, Mainland South Asian/Indian Fragility and Mainland South Asian/Indian Colonial/Orientalist Gaze can be used to unpack these intersectional forms of marginalization, structural oppression and inequity. Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic and Indian spaces, culture, history are overwhelmingly represented/equated as Hindu as the default, where Hindus (of especially upper caste (Brahmin), North Indian, Indo-Arayan language speaking backgrounds) have a superiority complex and are deemed the ‘authentic’ Indo-Caribbeans, Indentured Diaspora and Indians, leaving Muslims(4) deemed as ‘impure’, ‘polluted’ and ‘bastardized’. Hindutva ideology, Hindu Supremacy (or what I coin as Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy ( Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy)), Brahmin supremacy as well as what I coin as The Indian (Indentured/Indo-Caribbean) ‘Authenticity/Purity’ Hierarchy Theory, Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Privilege (Hindu Mainland Indian Privilege, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Privilege and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Privilege), Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Fragility (Hindu Mainland Indian Fragility, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Fragility and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Fragility) and Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Colonial/Orientalist Gaze (Hindu Mainland Indian Gaze, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Gaze and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Gaze). can be used to unpack these intersectional forms of marginalization, structural oppression and inequity. This leaves the intersectional positionality of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans(5) as regularly marginalized, silenced and invisibilized in all these spaces and transnational diasporas with Christian Black/Afro-Caribbeans, Hindus, Mainland South Asians/Indians and Arabs as the gatekeepers at the zenith in the hierarchies of ‘authenticity/purity’ in these spaces, where they have more power/privilege in claiming Caribbean-ness, West Indian-ness, Indo-Caribbean-ness, Indentured Diasporic-ness, Indian-ness, South Asian-ness and Muslim-ness.
Along with these intersectional forms of marginalization Muslim Indo-Caribbeans (and the Muslim Indentured Diaspora) experience oppression and carry intergenerational trauma(6) rooted in Indentureship, colonization, white supremacy as well as Hindu Supremacy, Hindutva ideology, Brahmin Supremacy, Anti-Muslim Racism and Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy etc. Muslim Indo-Caribbeans carry the oppression and trauma of Anti-Muslim Racism in Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Caribbean, West Indian, Indian and South Asian spaces as well as where they migrated to (ex: USA, Canada, Europe etc.). The lived experiences of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans with Anti-Muslim Racism is rarely acknowledged, much-less addressed in all these spaces and when it is, it is met with defensiveness such as due to Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Fragility (Hindu Mainland Indian Fragility, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Fragility and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Fragility) like how Indo-Caribbean Discrimination is met with Mainland South Asian/Indian Fragility. Anti-Muslim Racism includes a wide gamut of overt acts to microagressions effecting each Muslim Indo-Caribbean differently based on their intersectional positionality (and how they are externally racialized/labelled)(7). Muslim Indo-Caribbeans endure Anti-Muslim Racism stemming from colonialism, white supremacy heightened after 9-11 (such as resulting in the Québec mosque massacre in Canada and the violent murder of the Muslim Indo-Guyanese Canadian Mohammed Aslim Zafis outside a mosque in Toronto by a white supremacist), Hindu supremacy (Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy or Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy), Brahmin supremacy as well as Hindutva ideology promoted by the Sangh Parivar(8) and intensified under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Within this context a hierarchy of Indian ‘authenticity/purity’ (with the equation of Indian/Indian-ness to Hindu/Hinduism) is created where religion is a defining factor of Indian-ness, which I coin as The Indian (Indentured/Indo-Caribbean)“Authenticity/Purity” Hierarchy Theory; (a) Hindus (especially upper caste (Brahmin) North Indians of Indo-Arayan language speaking backgrounds) are at the zenith of this hierarchy as the gatekeepers of Indian-ness in India and the Indian diaspora (including the Indentured Diaspora and Indo-Caribbean Diaspora), (b) after Hindus are followed by other religions labelled/included in the ‘Indian/native religions’ to India fold (9) (ex: Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and indigenous religions (such as Santhal and Donyi-Polo) etc.)), (c) followed by religions externally labeled as ‘foreign’ to India ((c1)such as Zoroastrianism and the Bahá'í Faith etc.), (c2) followed by those of Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism, (c3) followed by Christianity, (c4) leaving Islam at the ultimate base, with Muslims as the most ‘foreign/‘inferior’ in this ranked hierarchy of Indian/Indentured/Indo-Caribbean ‘authenticity/purity’. Muslims are deemed the least Indian (Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean), unable to claim Indian (Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean) spaces or Indian-ness (Indentured Diasporic-ness/Indo-Caribbean-ness) and externally labelled as the most ‘inauthentic/impure’ (‘fake/inferior/polluted/diluted’) Indians (Indentured Diaspora/Indo-Caribbeans) in their construction of Indian-ness (Indentured Diasporic-ness/Indo-Caribbean-ness) in comparison to Hindus. It is important to note there are still existing intersectional sub-hierarchical caste systems that were maintained from Hinduism across all these religions, with dalits, scheduled tribes, adivasis and indigenous communities present within/across these religions as the most oppressed in all these spaces.
Hindutva ideology engages in systemic Anti-Muslim Racism where The Indian (Indentured/Indo-Caribbean)“Authenticity/Purity” Hierarchy Theory is entrenched in Indian Policy (such as Citizenship Policies, Foreign Policy and Diaspora Policy) where Muslims/Muslim-ness is problematically villifyed, externally labelled and policed. Within this ‘racialization’, ‘othering’ of Muslims, systemic Anti-Muslim Racism, Hindu supremacy, Brahmin supremacy as well as Hindutva ideology resulted most recently in India with systemic Anti-Muslim Racist policies including (but not limited to); (a) recent changes to Article 370 and Section 35a in regards to ongoing settler colonization of Indigenous Kashmiri lands and peoples as well as an ongoing genocide in Kashmir (Binish Ahmed 2019), (b) questioning the citizenship of Muslims when the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) are both combined, (c) in the violent policing of Muslim Anti-CAA/NRC protesters as well as lynchings (ex: cow/beef lynchings) against Muslims (many concentrated in Uttar Pradesh/Bihar where a majority of indentured labourers originate from), (d) in the construction of detention/concentration camps for mainly Muslims stripped of citizenship, (e) genocides against Muslims in India (with the most recent Delhi 2020 Genocode) and (f) using Muslims as scapegoats blamed for Covid-19 in India etc. Hindutva ideology engages in systemic Anti-Muslim Racism by problematically labelling Muslims as ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ by saying that Muslims can not claim India as punyabhumi (sacred territory) or their pitribhumi (land of their ancestors) since India is a Hindu state (Hindu Rashtra) and the homeland of Hindus, where Muslim loyalty must be questioned to India as well as the diaspora in Indian spaces (including the Indentured Diaspora and Indo-Caribbean Diaspora) due to the existance of a larger ummah (Muslim Diaspora). This leaves Muslims and their Muslim-ness as problematically villified and policed in Indian spaces due to tropes of being viewed as a ‘dangerous security threat/terrorist’ whose loyalty must be questioned, as ‘backwards’,‘barbaric’ or ‘intolerant’ (in comparison to the ‘tolerant’ Hindu)’ and practicing a ‘bastardized’ version of Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean culture. These are some of the different ways Muslims are ‘othered’ under an Orientalist gaze, externally labelled and ‘racialized’ in systemic Anti-Muslim Racism. This leaves Muslims as never seen as Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean, where they can never claim Indian-ness/Indentured Diasporic-ness/Indo-Caribbean-ness or where Indian-ness/Indentured Diasporic-ness/Indo-Caribbean-ness is understood as only being accessed by Hinduism/Hindu-ness (and problematically thinking if a Muslim is Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean it can only be through accessing Hindu-ness). This problematically leaves Indian and Hindu being used interchangeably and synonymous with each other and Muslims as oppressed, marginalized, silenced and invisibilized in Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean spaces. These tropes are even perpetuated en mass in Indian films such as in the Bollywood film industry, consumed both locally and in the diaspora (such as in the Indentured Diaspora/Indo-Caribbean Diaspora). The descendants of the families Muslim indentured labourers were displaced from in Hindostan are currently experiencing this context of Anti-Muslim Racism in India, where some Muslim descendants of indentured labourers(10) may fear for the safety of their Muslim extended family. This socio-political context of Anti-Muslim Racism may even create difficulty for Muslim descendants of indentured labourers to trace/find their extended family in India and deny them access to entering India to visit/reconnect with family or their ancestral villages(11) (while noting to trace ancestry and to travel to India is a privilege). On the other hand, Hindu descendants of indentured labourers have more power/privilege and greater accessibility to entering India’s border’s(12) (to trace/visit their extended family or ancestral villages) without having to fear the impacts of Anti-Muslim Racism. Under the BJP’s Foreign Policy and Diaspora Policy Indo-Caribbeans are deemed critical players in advancing pan-Hindu influence, which is why Hindu Indo-Caribbeans are targeted as the recipients of Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Cards and encouraged to visit India (to trace or visit extended family and ancestral villages or to go to school and study).
This Hindu supremacy, Brahmin supremacy as well as Hindutva ideology is present in the Indian Diaspora including among the Indentured Diaspora and Indo-Caribbean Diaspora (such as Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy). This Hindu-centric understanding of what it means to be ‘Indian’ as equated with being Hindu/Hinduism has influenced the Indian diaspora (Indentured/Indo-Caribbean diasporas) and deeply affected the ways Muslims are perceived in the Caribbean (and internationally). India and the Indian diaspora is ‘perceived’ as being Hindu, thus excluding Muslim Indians and Muslims of Indian origin in the diaspora by de-territorializing them from India and re-territorializing them to Pakistan. Muslim Indo-Caribbeans did not expereince the intergenerational trauma of partition but ripple effects have occurred throughout the diaspora. In the context of the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora, the initial Jahaji/Jahajee sibling(13) relationship (Hindu/Muslim jahaji/jahajee sibling bond) was rooted in similar experiences in India and during Indentureship but this initial jahaji/jahajee sibling relationship changed over time in different ways, becoming more nuanced, complex and complicated with Hindutva ideology in the Caribbean (resurging cyclically over decades since the late 19th century in the 1920s/1930s, Hindu Renaissance in the 1970s/1980s, 1990’s and the last decade). Some examples in the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora include (but are not limited to) the presence of Hindutva ideology (rooted in Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy, Anti-Muslim Racism and Anti-Black Racism), Hindutva organizations (HSS) and Hindutva supporters (VHP members), the Arya Samaj attempting shuddi/shudi to ‘cleanse’ Muslims by converting them ‘back’ to Hinduism and the militant/extremist Indesh movement by Hindus to partition the Caribbean to create a separate single Hindu Caribbean state (Indian homeland) to unite Indians(Hindus) of Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname named Bharatiyadesh/Industan.
It is important to challenge our notion of what is/who is Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Caribbean, West Indian, Indian, South Asian and Muslim and who can have conversations around Indo-Caribbean-ness, Indentured Diasporic-ness, Caribbean-ness, West Indian-ness, Indian-ness, South Asian-ness and Muslim-ness.We need to include the communities who are the most marginalized based on their intersectional positionality, amplify the voices of those not heard so we can gain more insight into the complexity and nature of how these intersectional identities are stereotyped, problematically understood and how oppression is perpetuated. We do not need to continuously hear from those who have the most power/privilege in claiming the terms Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Indian, South Asian and Muslim. We must continually resist and call out oppressive systems that perpetuate/reproduce as well as internalize colonialism, white supremacy, Hindu Supremacy (Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy or Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy), Brahmin Supremacy, Hindutva ideology, Anti-Muslim Racism as well as Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy and address Muslim Indo-Caribbean marginalization in Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Caribbean, West Indian, Indian, South Asian and Muslim spaces due to problematic ‘purity/authenticity’ politics.
Part of addressing the trauma from these forms of marginalization and internalized systemic oppression like Anti-Muslim Racism, Hindutva ideology, Hindu Supremacy (Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy or Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy), Brahmin Supremacy, Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy and Arab Supremacy (among other intersectional oppressions) is by Decolonizing Mental Health across these communities spaces by unpacking the link between belonging, microaggressions, discrimination, oppression and Mental Health. We can not Decolonize Mental Health across/within these community spaces if we continue to be complicit in maintaining systems that colonize each other and reproduce oppressive structures/spaces in the Indo-Caribbean/Indentured Diasporic/Indian/South Asian/Muslim etc. communities that contribute to Mental Health impacts. This piece is never unpacked when we talk about Mental Health and Decolonization because it goes beyond European colonization (and white supremacy), which we are still experiencing in the present but we also have to acknowledge problematic colonization across Indo-Caribbean/Indentured Diasporic/Indian/South Asian/Muslim etc. communities in the diaspora linked to Anti-Muslim Racism, Hindutva ideology, Hindu Supremacy (Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy or Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy), Brahmin Supremacy, Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy and Arab Supremacy (among other intersectional oppressions). If we don’t do this Decolonizing Mental Health will be co-opted by and only available for those with the most power/privilege in these communities (ex: Male, Hetero, Cis-gendered, Hindu, Upper-Caste, Mainland South Asian/Indian, Arab, privileged socio-economic status, privileged abilities etc.) who wish to maintain their privileged position of power and only address their own Mental Health without realizing how it is systematically connected to others and how they contribute to the oppression of others across these diasporic spaces. Therefore in all these community spaces deep self-reflexivity of your powers/privileges (in relation to Muslim Indo-Caribbeans) must occur in order to establish solidarity, social justice, radical equitable care and accountability by giving up space and centering thoughtful Muslim Indo-Caribbean (which in itself is an intersectional identity) representation so proper learning/unlearning and healing can occur. This deep self-reflexivity of your powers/privileges in relation to Muslim Indo-Caribbeans includes (but is not limited to) Mainland South Asian/Indian Privilege, Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Privilege (Hindu Mainland Indian Privilege, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Privilege and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Privilege) and Arab privilege since you hold a great deal of power/privilege being rendered as more ‘authentic/pure’ South Asians/Indians, Indians/Indentured Diaspora/Indo-Caribbeans or Muslims and hold more power/privilege over claiming South Asian-ness/Indian-ness, Indian-ness/Indentured Diasporic-ness/Indo-Caribbean-ness and Muslim-ness.
1. Karimah Rahman (2018) coined the term Mainland South Asian/Indian to refer to those from the subcontinent consisting of India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and other countries collectively known as South Asia (sometimes Myanmar) who either live in these countries or migrated post-partition (after 1947) or descended from those who did.
2. This is with the exception of Suriname where language retention and evolution occurred with Sarnami (Suriname Hindustani) which is still spoken today and includes a mix of languages indentured labourers spoke from Hindostan (present-day South Asia), including Bhojpuri and Awadhi as well as other languages present in Suriname.
3. The South Asian/Indian Authenticity Hierarchy Theory determines that South Asian/Indian identity is problematically stereotypically based on the level of ‘authenticity/purity’ of an individual or community’s construction of South Asian-ness/Indian-ness. This is rooted in one’s intersectional positionality as a socially positioned, contextual outcome of relative power/privilege within systems of oppression within the transnational South Asian/Indian diaspora (including Indentured Diaspora and Indo-Caribbean Diaspora) and in relation to South Asia/India. This is based on the complex relationship of the following intersections including (but not limited to); time, generation, language, spatial distance, area(s)/region(s) of origin, family origin, place of birth, nationality (citizenship/passport), socio-economic status (and caste) and religion etc. in relation to South Asia/India.
Time: the length of time the community/individual has lived permanently outside of South Asia/India
Generation: the number of generations a community/individual’s family has lived permanently outside of South Asia/India
Language: the degree of South Asian/Indian language retention by a community/individual
Spatial Distance: the spatial distance of the community/individual from South Asia/India
Area(s)/Region(s) of Origin: the area(s)/region(s) a community/individual originates from in South Asia/India (this includes the degree of interaction/communication a community/individual has with their area(s)/region(s) of origin including the frequency of visiting the location itself)
Family Origin: the degree of knowledge a community/individual has of where their family is originally from or can be traced to in South Asia/India (this includes the frequency of interaction/communication with their family in South Asia/India)
Place of Birth: the place of birth of the community/individual in relation to South Asia/India
Nationality (Citizenship/Passport): the nationality including citizenship and passport of the community/individual in relation to South Asia/India (ex: can include having an OCI Card)
Socio-Economic Status and Caste: the socio-economic status and caste when the community/individual migrated from South Asia/India
Religion: the religion the community/individual previously or currently practices or self identifies with
This leaves the intersectional positionality of communities/individuals within the transnational South Asian/Indian Diaspora’s hierarchy of South Asian/Indian ‘authenticity/purity’ as: (a) Mainland South Asians/ Indians: (a1) who live in South Asia/India, (a2) followed by those who recently migrated from South Asia/India post-partition (after 1947), known as the New South Asian/Indian Diaspora to ‘the West’ followed by other locations (such as the Middle East) (ex: Non-Resident Indians/NRIs) and their descendants, (b) the Old South Asian/Indian Diaspora who resided outside of South Asia/India permanently pre-partition (before 1947), also referred to as People of Indian Origin (PIO), (b1) business owners, traders, sailors and merchants etc. who migrated freely to ‘The West’ followed by other locations (b2) followed by the colonially displaced Indentured South Asian/Indian Diaspora (b3) with the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora at the ultimate base as the most ‘inauthentic/impure’ South Asian/Indians. Indo-Caribbeans are deemed the least South Asian/Indian, unable to claim South Asian/Indian spaces or South Asian-ness/Indian-ness and are externally labelled as the most ‘inauthentic/impure’ in their construction of South Asian-ness/Indian-ness in comparison to Mainland South Asian/Indians. It is important to note that the communities listed above are composed of various intersectional positionalities with sub-hierarchical systems across/within all these communities and spaces.
4. This especially leaves Muslims who descended from Southern Indians, that spoke Dravidian languages, from lower caste (Ajlaf) backgrounds disproportionately marginalized and those of dalit (Arzal), indigenous, scheduled tribe or Adivasi backgrounds left as the most oppressed, with the least power/privilege,’purity/authenticity’ to claim Indian-ness, Indentured Diasporic-ness and Indo-Caribbean-ness.
Other researchers who have noted the marginalization of Muslims in Indentured history and the Indian diaspora include (but not limited to) Aisha Khan, Khanam and Chickrie (2009), Bal and Sinha-Kerkhoff (2005), Afroz (2000) and Brereton (2013). Afroz (2000) who specializes on Muslims in Jamaica emphasized that "the importance of Muslim indentured labourers has been neglected due to the hegemonic majority status of Hindus in indentured servitude." Bal and Sinha-Kerkhoff (2005) who specialize on Muslims in Suriname (and the diaspora in The Netherlands) have pondered the question "is the exclusion of Muslims because religion (Hinduism) is at the core of defining the Indian Diaspora?" They concluded that "studies on the Indian Diaspora are in fact studies on Hindus with Hinduism firmly rooted in the present day Caribbean countries." Brereton (2013) highlighted how "Hinduism is correlated with Indo-Caribbean identity, where ‘Indian culture is Hindu culture."
5. At the same time it is important to acknowledge the power/privilege in the positionality of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans and acknowledge how the Muslim Indo-Caribbean community is complicit in systemic Anti-Black Racism in the Caribbean/West Indies and where they later migrated to.
6. Muslim Indo-Caribbeans (also Indo-Caribbeans and the Indentured Diaspora) carry intergenerational trauma, violence, oppression and colonial dislocation that stems from Indentureship that is palimpsestic and constantly relived in our day to day intersectional lived experiences. Two common examples include (but are not limited to) how it has shaped our mental health/how mental health is perceived including high rates of addiction (alcoholism), violence and suicide (Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world), especially gender-based/sexual violence, patriarchy, mysogyny and femicide (with so many men in hetero-relationships killing the womxn they were in relationships with and/or their children followed by suicide). What the descendants of indentured labourers experience today needs to be unpacked on an ongoing basis as Indentureship's Intersectional Intergenerational Trauma.
7. When putting language to Muslim experiences of marginalization and oppression, Islamophobia does not explain this lived experience. It is not others having a ‘fear’ of Muslims but something more deep rooted that the term Anti-Muslim Racism can capture the wide range/gamut of these intersectional expereinces. Muslims are problematically externally ‘racialized’ through the lens of ‘othering’ such as in Orientalism. Anti-Muslim Racism is not based on self-identified race but the perception of race, with this problematic lens of a grouping all Muslims together as one ‘racialized’ distinct culture. Each individual Muslim’s expereinces with Anti-Muslim Racism will be different depending on how they are externally ‘racialized’ or labelled, or what their perceived race is based on their intersectional positionality, including those who share multiple ancestries. Those who self-identify as Muslim Indo-Caribbean and also have African ancestry will experience structural oppression at the intersection of Anti-Black Racism and Anti-Muslim Racism so the lived expereinces of this oppression will be different based on these multiple systems of oppression operating simultaneously with their other intersectional identities.
8. The Sangh Parivar includes (but is not limited to) the following wings/organizations; (1) a political wing: the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), (2) a militant wing: Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (youth branch of the VHP) among other organizations and (3) a volunteer wing: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS) which is the name of the RSS organization’s shakas/branches in the diaspora (ex: Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname and where these diasporas migrated to such as Canada, USA and Europe like England or The Netherlands etc.) and Hindu Janajagriti Samiti (HJS) among other organizations. All these organizations are involved in saffron politics and rooted in Hindutava fascist/nazi ideology (influenced from European facists/nazis with the aim to reproduce the holocaust against Muslims and minorities in India), with the goal of creating a Hindu state (Hindu Rashtra). It is important to note the distinction between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hinduism is a beautiful religion of peace as all religions are. Hindutva on the other hand manipulates history/memory, culture and scripture (both Indian and Hindu) as all extremist/fundamentalist versions of any religion does.
9. Along with Hinduism other religions are included into the fold under the umbrella of ‘Indian/native’ religions, where India is deemed a homeland, such as with Sikhism. Yet, this inclusion is not static and can easily be revoked with distinctions highlighted between Hindus, such as with the 1984 Anti-Sikh Genocide.
10. It is important to note that the positionality of these Muslim indentured labourer descendants is one of more power/privilege in regards to not experiencing precarious citizenship and Anti-Muslim Racism in the context of India.
11. Muslims who resided in India for generations are having their citizenship stripped from them, much less the chances of a Muslim descendant of indentured labourers displaced for generations before partition to successfully obtain an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card or even a Visa to enter India. Since when applying for Visas the religion of parents and grandparents are collected, which is concerning if you are a Muslim (especially if all these family members are Muslim as well or if you have what is deemed a ‘Muslim sounding name’). Muslims are constantly policed, viewed as a dangerous security threat, and viewed as ‘foreign’ to India under Hindutva and Hindu supremacist rhetoric, which influences OCI and Visa application decisions under the BJP government.
12. On the other hand in comparison to Muslim descendants of indentured labourers, the positionality of Hindu descendants of indentured labourers (especially those who (and their family) have what is deemed ‘Hindu sounding names’) includes not needing to worry about being rejected to enter India if they wish to reconnect with family or visit their ancestral villages on the basis of their religion solely. Hindu Indo-Caribbeans (and Hindus in other indentured diasporas) have the power/ privilege of greater accessibility to enter India’s borders and move about without needing to be cautious of Anti-Muslim rhetoric as well as violence (if they have the privilege to travel there).
13. Please note that the term jahaji/jahajee sibling is used purposely and jahaji/jahajee bhai (ship brother) or jahaji/jahajee behen (ship sister) is not used in order to to be cognizant of this violent, colonial, oppressive, heteronormative, gender-binary and cis-gendered langauge that erases the wide range/gamut of Queer, Non-Binary and Trans Indo-Caribbean histories/memories.
Series: Marginalization of Muslim Indo-Caribbeans and why Muslim Indo-Caribbean Thoughtful Representation is so Important!
First Article: Who are Muslim Indo-Caribbeans?
Second Article: Muslim Indo-Caribbean Marginalization: In Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic,
Caribbean, West Indian, Indian, South Asian and Muslim Spaces
Third Article: Muslim Indo-Caribbean Marginalization in Indo-Caribbean Spaces
Fourth Article: Muslim Indo-Caribbean Marginalization: The Establishment of the Muslim Indo-Caribbean Collective (MICC) and How to Engage in Solidarity with Muslim Indo-Caribbeans?
Karimah Rahman (she/her) is the founder/curator of The Muslim Indo-Caribbean Collective (MICC) (@muslimindocaribbeancollective) as well as MICC’s blog and The Muslim Indentureship Studies Center (MISC) (@muslimindenturestudiescenter). Karimah is currently pursuing a PhD in Policy Studies in the Immigration, Settlement and Diaspora Policy Stream at Ryerson University. Karimah’s research focuses on the intersectional marginalization, lack of thoughtful representation and Anti-Muslim Racism towards Muslim Indo-Caribbeans (and marginalization of Indo-Caribbeans) in policy (India’s Diaspora Policy and Ontario’s South Asian Heritage Act, 2001) as well as Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Indian and South Asian spaces due to problematic ‘purity/authenticity’ politics. Karimah looks at the legacy of Muslim Indo-Caribbean resistance to colonization, journey of learning/unlearning, intergenerational trauma (rooted in Indentureship, colonization, white supremacy, Hindu supremacy, Hindutva ideology, Brahmin supremacy, Anti-Muslim Racism and Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy etc.) and decolonizing (including Decolonizing Mental Health to unpack these forms of Muslim Indo-Caribbean marginalization). Karimah coined The South Asian/Indian "Authenticity/Purity" Hierarchy Theory, The Indian (Indentured/Indo-Caribbean)’Authenticity/Purity’ Hierarchy Theory and the terms, Mainland South Asian/Indian, Mainland South Asian/Indian Supremacy, Mainland South Asian/Indian Privilege, Mainland South Asian/Indian Gaze, Mainland South Asian/Indian Fragility, Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Supremacy (Hindu Mainland Indian Supremacy, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Supremacy, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Supremacy), Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Privilege (Hindu Mainland Indian Privilege, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Privilege and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Privilege) Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Fragility (Hindu Mainland Indian Fragility, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Fragility and Hindu Indo-Caribbean Fragility) and Hindu Indian/Indentured Diasporic/Indo-Caribbean Gaze (Hindu Mainland Indian Gaze, Hindu Indentured Diasporic Gaze, Hindu Indo-Caribbean Gaze) to unpack these intersectional forms of marginalization and structural oppression experienced by Muslim Indo-Caribbeans. Decolonizing Mental Health is essential to unpacking all these forms of Muslim Indo-Caribbean marginalization and structural oppression in Indo-Caribbean, Indentured Diasporic, Indian and South Asian spaces. Karimah is a published author and spoken word artist with work ranging from academic to community publications to spoken words. She has also given seminars, talks, interviews and workshops on the topics mentioned earlier. Karimah is also the Managing Editor of the Identity Politics and Belonging cluster for The Migration Initiative’s peer-reviewed academic article publications (@themigrationinitiative).