The now superpower America is in news again, but not because of being the worst affected country from Covid-19 or some stupid remarks by their president but for something more serious. A black man named George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in broad daylight for using a counterfeit bill of 20$ in a store. But unlike Indians, American people didn’t validate the police’s reaction instead they asked “why for such a petty crime the guy was killed so brutally? Why police need to perform judgment on the street like an uncivilized barbarian?” maybe like us Indians they are not fans of encounter or movies where the policeman is a violent superhero who kills for justice.
Now when the video of the whole crime scene broke the internet, the people started to react and took to streets even in the whole pandemic situation against police brutality and which is specifically targeted against the African-Americans. The incident is new but the reason behind isn’t, the long history of slavery and treatment of blacks in America has affected generations, though steps are being taken still systemic racism prevails.
When the whole movement of Black Lives Matter went global, Indians have also started responding to it; even many public figures have spoken (who are apolitical by the way). But after this, a new debate took birth that we are hypocrites because we outrage selectively as most people have never condemned police brutality or racism in our country. People have been saying that “privileged turn a blind eye to racism in India as it strengthens their ease of living” And yes we are obviously privileged and ignorant so we don’t have a clear answer to it so the next best step was to educate ourselves and here is what we have found.
Are We Historically Racists?
One may say Black Lives Matter doesn’t make sense in India because we are neither black nor white but a brown race, racism is a foreign concept” and this is true. The creators of The Vedas, Aryans have emigrated from Iran to India and they had wars with the original residents of Indian subcontinent Dravidians but these wars were for the control of land and cattle not because of skin color. If we go look back to that very first document, we can find the earliest classification”VarnaVyavastha”, which was based on occupation, which assigned Brahmans with education, Kshatriyas with fighting and ruling, Vaishyas with business and Shudras with craftsmanship.
Later in history powerful people have improvised it according to their convenience and linked it with birth and declared noble occupations with high status and unclean occupations with low status and that’s how you get a 3000-year long history of discrimination but that is the story to tell on some other day.
The discovery of different sea routes connecting continents facilitated the trade business but it was quickly followed by the idea of invasion. Muslim invaders came to India in the early 8th Century and but during their dominance the discrimination based on the skin was still not happening, even though the invaders were light-skinned.
Then came The Englishmen, people with different facial features and ego of considering themselves intelligent & superior. It changed everything. In their rule, entry of “Black Indians” was prohibited in restaurants and educational institutions with boards outside stating “Indians and dogs not allowed.” But Britishers were outnumbered they can’t run a foreign country without the help of natives so they start employing light-skinned Indians by providing them low-status jobs. And the skin prejudices formed a new system where light-skinned were allies and they were getting more benefits than their black counterparts.
Britishers even formed settlements named “White Town” and “Black town”. And this went on for two hundred years which forms the common notion of White Skin with power, desirability, and beauty. As the already prevailing caste system coupled with skin color made the discriminatory situation so worse that it still exists, seemingly invincible.
Systemic Racism in India
As we are evidently not a British colony now but we are still not free from the concept of white supremacy. The uncle who always complains about the western influence on you is right about this racism bit. The lengths of trouble we all go to make our skin tone light or keep it fair are the evidence of it. The concept of beauty is directly proportional to the fairness of the skin. All the beauty products are basically “tone down skin tan” products. The business on an individual’s insecurity is a multibillion-dollar industry and they are successful just because we as a society are racist.
No matter how much we glorify the sacred bond of marriages which is basically the matrimony of souls is plain bullshit when your matrimonial advertisement says “fair bride or groom required”. You definitely are marrying flesh and blood instead of souls for sure and maybe that is why products to make your genitals clean & fair are in the market too (no kidding).
Similarly, A policymaker needs to be unbiased but in this case, they aren’t. Politicians too are racist and many have made derogatory remarks in past, one such example is of Tarun Vijay, a BJP MP who said “if we were racists, we wouldn’t be living with south-Indians” and he made this statement on national television after an African student was attacked. This is unacceptable as people like him deciding our future will make sure to maintain a biased society.
All mainstream media hire “fair” people. You can simply get an idea from counting the number of movies you have seen with a dark-skinned protagonist, which is simply none, at least in the mainstream. Whether they are TV shows, or ads or news anchors wherever you see a face it is fair-skinned, which tacitly establishes the notion that fairness is required for success.
So, the idea of fair skin as a blessing and dark skin as a curse is not true but its omnipresence in the system is enough to mess up lives. Talent and beauty simply rejected for its color.
Why Racism is Poisonous?
Englishmen considered blacks as animals and no doubt on some level we do too. After labeling them unworthy of beauty and success we went one level below and denied their human existence.
“Kala” is a word in the Hindi language which means black but used as an insult. The tone of it is disrespectful and a reminder that you are not one of us. Thanks to caste system lower caste have been associated with low-status jobs thus making them work in fields rather than cubicles. So We presumptuously label them as unhygienic just because they are dark-skinned. Not sharing food with them, not bringing them to your place or going to theirs, and treating them as filth.
The north Indians are fairer in skin color than people from other parts of India so they have different insults for them like “Madrasi”, “Bihari”, “Bengali”. Some northeast Indians are also insulted with the calls of “Nepali” or “Cheeni (Chinese)”. Again the disrespect in the tone generally implies that they are inferior, unhygienic, foreign, and thieves by nature.
Hate crimes in India against the Africans are not invisible. Mostly Nigerians came to India for better education and life but it becomes their worst experience. There are more than a million Nigerians in India. They face racism at every turn. They are considered drug dealers and prostitutes and called “monkey” and whatnot. The inhumanity of various incidents of a mob attacking Nigerians just because of prejudices is a serious matter. As these people came here to know the very culture that we all are very proud of but will only know that we Indians treat others as animals.
Protests are ongoing in America, we have seen violence too but you can’t argue that with systemic racism for eternity. You can’t hack the movement by saying “All Lives Matter” as not everyone is facing racism right now. In this time where we are boycotting foreign products and moving on a way to be self-reliant then we should boycott racism first. When an Indian gets attacked in a foreign country we condemn it and show our outrage but when we attack an African and justify or defend it as them being potential threat then yes we are nothing but hypocrites.
When we debate about merit in professions and deprive opportunities to others because of their skin color yes it made us hypocrites. When we say God created all men equal and every soul beautiful then do not treat them as such then yes we are hypocrites. If I ask you to trade your life with a dark-skinned person, will you? If not then yes you are both racist and hypocrite.
Even if this realization comes as shocking, all is not lost. There is a future tomorrow and we can free it from this evil if we begin to change right now. Change our attitude, build our understanding, and build a world where equality is not just a word.