No doubt that there is racism shown against darker skinned people in the segments of the Arab world. Moreover, some Arab countries are dominated by tribal patronage in which Arabs of lesser tribes have limited social mobility, not to mention South Asian migrant workers who are exploited in the Gulf States. However, what Bougie Black Girl’s blog puts forward are some sweeping generalizations and over simplifications as well as ignoring the unfortunate tendencies of tribalism and racism that exist in one form or another in all societies from America to Africa to Asian.
The Arab world is far from monolithic to begin with, and being Arab as an identity has nothing to do with skin color. Pre-dating modern times, the social revolution in the Arabian Peninsula led by Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdillah (prayers & peace be upon him and his family) addressed the disease of Arab tribal superiority and honored Black people. It’s narrated that Prophet Muhammad stated, “Whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab,” and in fact there were dark skinned Arabs such as his adopted son Zayd bin Harithah, who was a “Black Arab” leader among the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad referred to a Black woman who helped raised him named Umm Ayman as “My mother,” he appointed Bilal the Ethiopian as the treasurer of the Muslim nation and he arranged several inter-racial marriages between Black men and lighter skinned Arab women. More of this is explained by Al-Jahiz’s work “Glory of the Blacks Over the Whites.”
Broad generalizations about any group of people are invalid according to the rules of logic. To paint the entire Arab world as being completely racist against Blacks is no more valid than saying that Sub-Saharan Africa has a whole is concretized by tribalism and illiteracy. It is somewhat disturbing to read a Blackamerican put forth such a notion about Arabs in general given how many White folks have done the same with Blacks. Furthermore, as Africa is a land of many languages and cultures that are not hegemonic, the Arab world is not either. To compare human trafficking that continues against the law in Mauritania to the plight of Palestinians, who don’t own slaves and barely can scratch out a living under illegal occupation, as Bougie Black Girl asserts in her piece is frankly irresponsible. Human trafficking continues to go on in the good ole’ U.S.A. as well, but the American society as a whole does not sanction this.
Speaking out against oppression of Palestinians should be done because it is the moral thing to do. Injustice against one group should not be turned a blind eye to just because others with a relationship to that group have committed some injustices. This, however, requires the spiritual quality of empathy and an accurate moral compass. Moreover given the activism that Blackamericans undertook in aiding Black South Africans under the Apartheid system, it is hypocritical to be indifferent about what Israel has been committing to Arabs (Christians and Muslims, most White skinned and some Black skinned) when seeing similar circumstances as was in South Africa.
It is true that Arabs should take more active steps in speaking out against racism and tribalism among themselves as Arab-American activists like Khaled Beydoun do. It is also true that in order to address the worldwide disease of racism and to build coalitions to combat it, we cannot paint people with broad-brushes despite the pain that we feel from particular injustices.