Racial attacks on Indians in the US have attracted our attention frequently. We have criticised such incidents. We have also often asked the US administration to take strict action to stop such attacks.
India’s administration has also officially voiced its displeasure at such incidents, and asked the US government to ensure the safety of Indians in the US. These actions are really commendable. After all, we must never allow any discrimination or violence on the basis of one’s origin, race or skin color.
However, here’s the other side of the coin. After expressing our anger at such incidents, many of us also make fun of dark-skinned people on the streets of India. We stare at them, we smile weirdly, we laugh at their skin color, poke them and even call names, such as kalua (signifying ‘black’ skin colour and ‘dirtiness’), on their faces.
While making fun at the expense of these people, we don’t see the fact that they may be seeking jobs here – just as many of us do in the US or Australia. They may also be hoping to obtain a decent education here. Or maybe, they are here to eke out a living so that they can help their poor families back in their home nation. But we fail to see these obvious similarities between an African national living in India and an Indian living in the US or other foreign nations.
Instead, all that we observe are the race, skin colour, voices and physique of these people. Furthermore, we mock and ridicule these features and attributes, and often treat it as a ‘pastime’. We fail to observe that such a pastime also constitutes racial abuse.
Indeed, we have become a racist nation. This is reflected by the country’s obsession with fair-skinned people – in Bollywood, in fairness cream ads, and even while looking for a bride.Do we question why the beauty/fairness cream industry thrives in India? Or why are there competing ads aired on TV, which speak of changing from ‘black’ to ‘white’ in the least possible time? Why do we colour-shame people within our own friend circles or families? Aren’t these indications of a predominantly racist mindset in our nation? Or is there some other explanation? Why can’t we view skin colour as a normal human trait? More importantly, unless we ourselves stop discriminating against people on the basis of looks and skin colour, our protests against racist attacks in the US will continue to be meaningless, hollow and hypocritical. Our skin color doesn’t define our beauty – our deeds do! A bit of introspection is needed before we complain of being affected by racism. Only when we stop judging other people on the basis of their nation, looks or skin colour, can India truly get rid of the stigma of being a racist nation!