Not All Brown Guys are Terrorists

(Or Doctors, Accountants and Corner Shop Owners)

Aarish Shah
4 min readNov 7, 2016

You may be aware of the inductive logic that led to the old ‘all swans are white’ fallacy, by a similar false logic, you can see fearful rationalising that leads to the following skewed thinking: all the terrorists we hear about are Muslim (not true see article here), all the Muslims I know are Brown (equally incorrect), therefore all Brown People MUST be Terrorists!

Some background — I’m British, I was born in Africa, I’m of Indian heritage, if I were to associate with an ideological belief, it would be Jainism, my wife is Italian, my kids will be whatever they want to be and can define themselves in their own terms.

(OK, I’ll admit though, I am an accountant, but the cool kind that looks forward not backwards.)

I’ve lived in the UK, Papua New Guinea and Australia and have travelled around a fair amount, run into a vast array of people and opinions — some that are well thought out and logical, others not so much.

In this post Brexit, potentially pre Trump zeitgeist we need voices to keep breaking through the stereotypes, reaffirming the incredibly diverse, socially engaged peoples all of whom choose to contribute to the future histories of our nations.

Where to begin then? Well let’s start with the basics…

Brown People Come from Lots of Places

My Brown heritage is Indian, I know other Brown people who are of African descent. Some are South American whilst yet others are Mediterranean. Oh and a bunch of Brown people are Middle Eastern. And here, I’m not talking about nationality or residence, I’m talking about origin. Given the geographic spread and the fact that Brown people often can’t tell where another Brown person comes from — how is it that others are so confident in clumping them all together?

Brown People Move Around

Having established that Brown people come from all over the world, let’s also accept that they are everywhere; they’ve travelled the trade routes for centuries, they’ve been indentured, enslaved, built and moved with empires and in the last century or two have simply emigrated. Yes Brown people have pretty much figured out how to move around. Just look at the Indian diaspora in Africa, the Pacific, the US and the UK to name a few.

Brown People Don’t All Worship the Same God(s)

You’ve got your monotheistic Muslims, your South Indian Christians, your vedic polytheist Hindus, meditating Buddhists, non-violent Jains, Coptics, Jews... I mean, we Brown folk are pretty varied in our beliefs, in fact I’d be surprised if there was a major religion out there that didn’t include a fairly sizeable bunch of Brown folk amongst its congregation. Oh, and attending a mosque is not a sign of ‘anti-west’, prurient, misogynistic leanings. It’s a sign of connection with the divine.

Brown People go to the Same Schools and Universities as You Do

Yes not all Brown guys joined the local Islamic madrasa the minute they were able to recite some catechism (I’m sure the Q’ran has an equivalent, but I’m pretty confident many people reading this will get the Sunday School reference). Plenty of Brown chaps have attended some of the west’s more hallowed halls of learning — not to mention the east’s — and are some of the world’s luminaries. (Unfortunately many more Brown folk live in abject poverty, have low literacy and numeracy skills and can’t even access basic education let alone pursue a path through the Ivy League).

Brown People Work in All Sorts of Fields

That includes literal fields as farmers metaphorical ones like medicine and everything in between. They do own corner shops (or motels for my American readers), they are accountants and doctors. But they are also engineers, journalists, lawyers, educators, peacekeepers, cake makers, waiters, hairdressers, coders — funnily enough pretty much any job that’s out there, you’ll find at least one Brown person filing at least one role.

Let’s face it, the label sucks, because all labels suck. We are who we are, all of us for better or for worse. Look beyond the colour at the individual, understand the person behind the knee jerk, more often than not, erroneous (il)logical stereotype.

The next time you see a Brown Person at your work place, on the street or with a rucksack on the subway, take the time to get to know them. See past the phantom terrorist mental propaganda that’s been seeded over the last decade. Maybe then we’ll start moving past some of the truly worrying trends we’re seeing out here in the west, and get to a world where all of us are simply subsumed into the only collective that matters — humanity.

About me: Brown Person, Citizen of the World. Currently CFO in an EdTech business, I love writing, photography, learning new stuff and taking businesses from zero to something.

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Aarish Shah

Generalist | Thinker | Life Long Learner | Writer | Photographer