A Different Perspective: Racism or Identification?

Posted on June 29, 2009 in Society

Navjeet Singh Sandhu

This is in response to the series that appeared in The Hindustan Times last week named – Reverse Racism. After going through most of the articles regarding the series, make note – most of , I was in a dubious situation regarding the so called ‘racism’. I was getting more of an idea of ‘Identity’.

I myself have never been called by my name during the 12 year schooling period. Fortunately or unfortunately what ever you say, I was the only Sardar in my class. So every body called me – Sardar, Giyani or something like that but never by my name. I never regarded it as Racism but – calling by the identity.

I’m a Sardar and so what if people call me by what I am. In fact whenever I was out in southern or eastern states to represent my state at National level debates or table tennis tournaments, they all used to call me – Punjabi, Bhapa Ji and the list was endless but I never felt being discriminated. Rather, I felt proud on being called so. When ever they used to call me names, I used to feel that – yes, I’m. I felt happy. After all I was representing my community, my state, my society over there and I was representing it correctly. That’s the reason they used to call me by such names.

It’s not only me. We had a lovely girl, Kunzes Dolma, in our class from Leh. More than half of the class used to call her sweet, sugar, chinny, chee and her response was very optimistic. On once being asked by the teacher, “Don’t you feel discriminated or differentiated?” She very politely replied, “Mrs. Sharma, have you ever felt discriminated or differentiated when somebody calls you – Mrs. Sharma? Same is the case with me. I’m from Leh and each time they call me, they make me feel that I’m from Leh. It will be a problem if they call me something else but with chinny it’s all right.

Not giving them a seat in a public transport because they are what they are, is surely discrimination but calling them what they are – is not racism. Only they feel it as a racism who don’t want to be what they are, who are not proud of themselves. So duboious situation deepens making it a question – Are we lacking the respect for ourselves and for our community or region which we belong to and of which we are a part.

Racism needs to be redefined. But before that there’s a lot of homework to be done which even includes telling people like Symonds bhai the difference between ‘ma-kee’ and ‘monkey’. Indian students in Australia know what we have lost due to our incapability to explain it.

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