The United States of America has caught itself in an uproar ever since the murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a police officer. Protests have erupted in every state in the country with the demand being the prosecution of the officers involved in Floyd’s death and that of addressing the issue of police brutality, especially against the black community.
The issue is not a domestic one anymore with many countries, such as the United Kingdom, etc. organizing their own protests in a mark of solidarity and also to highlight the systemic racism against the black community that is a common phenomenon across many countries.
Celebrities and influential people alike have not held back in expressing their outrage over the incident and many have even stepped out on the streets participating in the protests and donating money to many organizations that work in the interest of uplifting black communities.
Indian celebrities have also expressed their outrage against the murder of Floyd as many took to their social media accounts to post about it, notable names being Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor Khan, among others. Both actresses hold a sizable amount of influence over the public as they have legions of fans that look up to them.
Such an act as Floyd’s murder deserves and needs everyone’s outrage and a collective demand for justice from the general public. However, it is not an isolated incident and neither is the problem of police brutality or systemic discrimination, such as racism, an inherently American problem.
India has its myriad issues with systemic discrimination in the form of casteism against Dalits and further religious discrimination against minorities, and many incidents of violence and brutality emerge from them. In February this year, a group of men in Delhi were beaten by the police while being asked to sing the national anthem—an incident that didn’t manage to earn any outrage at all even when it resulted in the death of one of the victims.
The CAA-NRC protests that plagued the country in late 2019 and early 2020 resulted in a lot of peacefully protesting students facing excessive force from police and being charged with lathis for merely exercising their rights. However, this did not garner any attention from our influential celebrities except for a few posts that did nothing but call for peace.
The plight of Kashmiris is another issue that is largely ignored even as the people of Kashmir are still essentially cut off from the rest of the country since the past year, and yet, no influential voice has dared speak about it, collectively choosing to stay mum about it all.
India is a country with an extensive celebrity-worship culture, and the influence over the general public that they hold is immense. Yet, most of our influential people have chosen to stay silent about everything that the country faces, even as hundreds of migrants die while walking home. There is a never a single post that is made or any outrage raised whatsoever.
These same people have managed to find a voice to raise their voices for an issue outside of our country and have expressed their outrage and spread awareness. And while they speak out against racism, they perpetuate the same ideas of racism and colourism by their advertisements for skin lightening creams that proclaim a life of beauty and success associated with possessing a lighter and fairer skin.
If Indian celebrities manage to raise their voice for America, they can and should have raised their voices for India too as its citizens faced and continue to face turmoil. Their influence that can manage to bring light and attention to so many issues, and the power that they hold over the people can be used productively to bring justice for the crimes against humanity that happen in our country.
These celebrities build themselves as role models of sorts and yet cower at the slightest backlash of expressing a contrarian opinion. They don’t dare to express something that is beyond a meticulously crafted PR message.
Why are their voices raised for America but only deafening silence for India? When American celebrities have expressed their opinions with no inhibitions and spoken out against the issues in their countries so openly, why do our celebrities still stay silent about everything that happens in India? Celebrities are not activists, yet they hold an amount of responsibility towards the society and for that reason, they must speak up.
Now that Indian celebrities have proven themselves not completely blind to tyranny and discrimination and have found their voice to express their outrage, in the future, we must demand them to raise their voices against the injustices in India too. We must hold these celebrities accountable for their persistent silence.
Because if they speak for George Floyd, they can also speak for Faizan.