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First I Was Offended On Being Called A Racist, But Then Realized That Even I Was One

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By Anuashka Sharma:

A few months back, I had a heated argument with one of my closest friends. I was angry at him for calling me a racist. I had hundreds of examples and reasons to prove that I was not one, but he won’t budge. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be long till I realized this fact on my own. As much as I would hate to admit this, but yes, I have a racist person dwelling somewhere inside me.

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Picture Credits

Famous American Actor/Comedian/writer/singer, Denis Leary, says ‘Racism isn’t born folks, it’s taught. I have a two year old son; do you know what he hates? Naps. End of the list!’. How true. Caste, Religion, and Race – I don’t remember knowing these words when I was eight. Then how and when did I become someone who calls herself a racist today? And it’s not just me; every second person I meet has some traits of racism in them. What is it that makes even the educated, ‘elite’ people, racists? What is it that even our education could not teach us?

Being an Indian, I know much of this discrimination stems from the environment that we have grown up in. This environment does not necessarily mean our parents and close relatives. It’s what we see around us, what we read, and what we perceive out of all this. I am a Brahmin. I have always been taught to appreciate the fact that I was born a Brahmin.

If we consider the mythological lineage, Brahmins were the gurus, the teachers who imparted knowledge to people, and were respected the most in the society. Brahmins were supposed to be completely vegetarian, and live on fruits and leaves from the forests. I would like to ask whether being born to Brahmin parents is enough to make one a Brahmin? How many such Brahmins actually follow the Brahmins ‘way of life’? I am sure each one us would have seen many Brahmins who relish eating non-veg food, who consume alcohol, and many non-Brahmins who stay away from any kind of meat and alcohol. Who do you think is actually following Brahminism?

The moot point that I wanted to raise is even when we have entered the 21st century, why can’t we free ourselves from the shackles of these petty and illogical ideas? Why can’t we just respect people for what they have achieved by themselves, instead of judging them by their caste or race? Why not appreciate their deeds more than something which they have no control over i.e. their birth into a community?

I never believed that I had this discrimination in my mind, and that’s what I was offended when my friend accused me of being a racist. A little while after that incident, I read about someone on the Internet who had very impressive achievements to their credentials. Having read much about the person’s qualifications, my next Google search was about their caste. Now that I come to think of it, I realized that intentionally or unintentionally, I had been sheltering a racist inside me. I felt ashamed of myself for doing so. Everyday in our routine, we do so many things that we never thought could actually be considered as racist. Sub-consciously, we have practised or are practising some kind of discrimination which needs to stop, right here, right now!

I am reminded of two lines from the speech that British actress Emma Watson gave at the U.N. – ‘If not now then when, if not me then who?’. Racism will stop only when each of us take one step forward towards ending it. I pledge today to stop supporting racism, and urge every reader to do the same and contribute towards a better nation and society building.

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  1. pradnya

    I enjoyed this reading. But example didn’t really sound general, but more of representing some set of people. There is a difference between caste and race, so little bit confusing. However, good luck for your next articles 🙂

  2. Pratyush

    According to study, we indians are the most racist people in the world. We discriminate on caste, creed, color, religion, region and may be more. We love showing superiority among others, to hide our insecurity. But irony is this that we deny it. And the biggest reason our country with the maximum talent is not a developed nation is because of this racism, which always comes in our paths.

  3. SVFR

    I dislike blacks and find them unhygienic and filthy even though I could be wrong. That’s my opinion of theirs and I don’t mind being called a racist..

  4. Anuashka Sharma

    @SVFR…I think it is actions that should be hated and not persons. Just because you found some people belonging to a certain community not acceptable in terms of their behavior or conduct, doesn’t make them all hate-worthy. I believe good and bad people are present in every society so stereotyping good or bad based on their birth is just not the right thing to do

    1. Ashish

      Stereotyping helps. And I will explain you how. Lets say for example, terrorists almost always belonging to a particular group following a religion. It is wise to avoid ALL the people of such group rather than risk the probability of finding the true nature of somebody. That is unfortunate to some good people of that group, but it is the only risk free and faster way to keep yourself away from such things. If you know what I mean. You cannot and do not have the practical time and energy and enough fall backs to keep a check in the hope of finding 5 good people out of 100.

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