Black lives matter for them, hush for ours? A story of racism in India.
Most of the people in our country are fighting for something that actually isn’t happening in this country, which isn’t wrong, yet it reeks of hypocrisy. Because I’ve seen people commenting and talking about Black lives and their unfair treatment while they do the same to their fellow country citizens.
When it comes to a predicament in their own country, they turn ‘apolitical’. With the custodial death of George Floyd and the worldwide protests that followed with the Black Lives Matter Movement, Indians too, took to social media to express their thoughts on racism. But remain silent on ever-growing Racism and Casteism in their own backyard.
I’m not saying, it is bad or of no use to fight for black lives. Yes, it is required and I totally UP for it. Black lives do matter after centuries of oppression and mistreatment. Although India is home to various cultures and religions, it is itself laden with instances of racism due to skin colour, century-old caste system which still exists in this Post-modern world, the ever brewing communal differences and Xenophobia. Here are some examples which I’ve seen personally:
I have a dark brown complexion and my mom did everything to make me white. She continuously fed me and put such stuff on my face to make my skin colour whiter, because as societal norms, dark people aren’t pretty. This took my insecurity to a whole other level. Being a boy has never been easy for all of us- career pressure, mental issues and on top of that trouble with height, weight and complexion proved a bonus to that crisis.
Remember a few days back the renaming of ‘Fair & Lovely’ to make it anti-racist? Well, yes, of course, a name can change what effect it has on us- but a skin whitening cream will remain a skin whitening cream and I don’t see how it will end racism. On a duller note- it took India more than 4 decades to realize that a product named like that was racist and derogatory for the people on the darker side of complexion. We are lagging much behind, trust me.
While we are at this, you must have heard of a man who spitted on a Northeastern woman, calling her “Corona” just because she had a similar facial appearance similar to East Asians? Even if coronavirus did proliferate from china, does that signify that we are exempted from treating them with humanity?
This incident, although a small one, implies a deep stemmed racialism and Xenophobia.
First for the people belonging to our country and second to a deeply rooted xenophobia.
The seven sisters- of north-east India, though being a part of our country are treated differently in numerous aspects. Often these people are discriminated against and not included as a part of India, being Indians; they are often called “Chinese” because of the similarities of their facial features.
Member of Parliament of BJP- Tarun Vijay fended racism after the NOIDA attack in which African students were assaulted by a vigilante mob on apparent selling of the drugs— “If we were racist, why would the entire South — you know the Tamils, you know Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra — why do we live with them?” Why do they live with us?
A mindset like that isn’t formulated in a day. For the fruits to be spoilt- the tree has to be damaged from its very roots.
SC/ST are communities that are still backward and poor in India to many extents. They are still discriminated against and in some cases killed too. Yet, these instances do not ignite discourse and movements. The suicide of Dr. Payal Tadvi due to the ragging by three upper caste doctors or the temple incident at Kachanatham, Tamil Nadu, or the numerous cases you will find all directed towards the prejudice and discrimination against these communities.
Hating the people of a rival country- Let me be precise, hating a government and hating the citizens for the actions of the government are two very distinct things. Yes, China was the first base for coronavirus but are we supposed to hate them to such a level that we even forget the distinction between Northeast Indians and Chinese- directs towards a two-way trail- one of discrimination on the grounds of facial appearance and second based on their citizenship. Hence, Xenophobia+ Racism.
According to cognitive behavioural therapist Marion Rodriguez, LMHC, NCC, “Hate can be rational, such as when we hate unjust acts … On the other hand,” she says, “hate of certain ethnic groups, religions, races, or sexual orientations is based on irrational beliefs that lead to hatred of others as well as hate crimes. It is the belief that other ‘groups’ are inherently flawed or inferior or are seen as a threat. Often these groups are dehumanized and de-legitimized, making it easier to hate.”
We need to talk about how families/parents/communities forcing religion upon people and how making them feel obligated to follow a religion through either:
•Threat being shunned
•Fear of disownment/homelessness
•Pressure through guilt
•The threat of physical violence is damaging and traumatic to people’s mental health.
In his pursuit to comprehend and combat bigotry, psychologist Abraham Maslow urged, “Learn to hate meanness. Watch out for anybody who is mean or cruel. Watch out for people who delight in destruction.”
Yes, we need to step up when it comes to the BLM movement. We need to spread awareness about what transpired with Floyd is wrong- but with it the lives of Jayaraj and Fenix matter too. Yes, racism is not a “foreign problem” it is Indian too. We need to seek self-appraisal and work on it. What’s wrong in any country can be changed only if we work on it- but the initial and most vital step is acknowledging it. India has begun acknowledging that racism does exist in our society- but is the step big enough?
In the end, as accurately put by the man who wrote our national anthem, Rabindranath Tagore, “I am willing to serve my country, but my worship I reserve for Right which is far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.”
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