opinion
Bobby Friction: Why calling another desi a 'coconut' is racist and prejudiced
By Guest Contributor
31st July 2018

by Bobby Friction

Like the fruit, the definition of the 'coconut' in desi slang is someone: 'white on the inside yet brown on the outside'. A person who likes to experience western (white) culture despite their desi upbringing.

But the term 'coconut' implies there is only one correct way to be Asian / Muslim / Sikh / Hindu etc. It's a very supremacist way of operating, and has no empathy attached to it.

When you call someone a 'coconut' you are denying them the freedom to live and experience their heritage in the way they see fit.

You basically are telling them only your cultural experience is correct and theirs is wrong. You end up trying to narrow people's life experiences and upbringing.

When you call someone a 'coconut' online, in a tweet or to their face, you are using the language of othering that right-wing nationalists, religious extremists and white supremacists use.

Imagine telling an LGBTQ identifying person that they aren't gay enough and taking the piss out of them and labelling them as the other?

I'm a second generation desi in the UK and steeped in Desi Culture, and Alternative brown culture too.. If I actually believed in the term 'coconut' then all of you under the age of 40 would be 'coconuts' to me, regardless of your politics or beliefs.

Most of the people I've seen use the term are themselves 'coconuts' to others within the community.

Nobody owns the cultural truth within any ethno/religious/immigrant community. Each individual has the right to their own lived experience.

So stop using the term 'coconut' as an insult, stop using it to other people and don't take anyone who uses it in conversation seriously.

Let them know just how insulting, supremacist and prejudiced they sound.





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