03/20/2008 06:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Racism: What If You're Not Black or White?

Racism is not a black and white issue. I know it's been branded well to exclude the colorful fricassee of all other races that endure inexcusable racial abuse, the shame and the humiliation within this nation. It's almost too easy to forget how many other races were exploited in the building of this nation when the dialogue focuses primarily on the black and white issue. And so often, the conversation of racism always finds its way to the roots in slavery, almost always excluding all other races that were exploited as well. The Native's, mostly Cherokee, were also traded as slaves, but because they were not brought in from anywhere and were already here in America, that community is barely noticed in the dialogue of slavery, if at all. The Chinese, South Asians were enslaved for labor around the early and mid-1800s for building railroads, ect. It's not about which race endured the most atrocities; we are all educated enough to recognize that all races have grievances and have endured horrible inhumane monstrosity.

The address on racism made by presidential candidate Barack Obama was a first step to initiate a dialogue long overdue. As a first generation South Asian, I recognize the discriminatory patterns among those who are neither black nor white. Racism exists within every ethnic group against other ethnic groups and is vivid when hate crimes lead to loss of lives of innocent Americans. I've seen blatant racial profiling many times, heightened after 9/11 when brown seemed to the focus of hate. Barack's speech was a wakeup call to those that feel the issue of race is a pernicious conversation, one that will only pick at old wounds so it's better left alone. In reality, it's about time we start discussing what racism does and what racism is.

The deep-set racist tendencies hidden behind the consensual lies and rhetoric of equality are still ever-present among diverse communities in the U.S. Discrimination is not always towards blacks and Barack is right, not all those living in "middle-class white America feel they have been privileged by their race." Social conditions of underprivileged communities have more to do with exclusivity rather than race. With every exclusion, we are separating and dividing further, so it's possible that it might be about color, then about gender, then further about economics and so on. The cycle of separateness only perpetuates all the problems we already face. We are part of the problem of exclusivity. So, when Barack raised the issue of racism, he wasn't really talking about the problem, he was talking about a symptom of the problem. Slavery may never have happened if African Americans, Indians, Chinese were seen as a part of and included within the white community. It's obvious when a group hates, it hates or discriminates the other. It fears the other. The other is easy to abuse.

Perhaps there is a way that we can find our way back to a more 'inclusive' and respectful society. In some cases, the ugly cards of racism are starting to fold as we become a mixed society. When there is no race left to hate because we are all a mix of one another, the hope is there will be no such thing as racism. Until we can truly call someone of another race our brother or sister, or have some form of true interaction and constant contact it's difficult to shed the preconceived notions. Beginning the dialogue is the first step; making sure we include all races in that dialogue is the next step.