Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"Color Blind"

Good morning!

Last night, I watched the movie "Selma" based on Martin Luther Jr. marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. It is beautiful movie based on the Selma Voting Rights Movement in United States resulting in the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 50 years has passed since the African-American of United States was granted the equal Voting Rights, and the movement certainly paved a new road where we are able to see in Barack Obama, an African-American origin, as the current President of United States. Indeed, lot has changed for United States, and who would have ever thought there will be an African-American origin becoming the President of United States? 

Every now and then, we also see racism in India as well as in other countries. But until the major news reports of racially motivated assaults on Indian students in Australia in the year 2009, we were not completely aware about the racism issue within our country. That incident in Australia was kind of irony, and it appears to be a wakeup call for us in addressing our own domestic racism issue. I belong to Manipur, one of the North east states of India. I cannot deny the fact that I've been called Chinki, Nepali, Chinese, Thai, etc. many times.

The funniest question ever asked to me by my fellow educated North Indian was, “Where is Manipur and is it near to China?” To answer his question, I had to mentioned all the north eastern states of India and its location, and then to finally pinpoint Manipur. Also, in order to not complicate further, I told him Manipuri are also Indians like him. At that very moment, I wondered if the guy who asked me the question actually flunks his Geography subject in high school.

Here in our country, some people thinks the derogatory remarks made on other communities, traditions, culture, etc. are normal and intended for fun. However, the derogatory remarks used are really appalling and uncivilized. For example, when a Black guy from African country travels in a bus or metro, I bet most us would have come across some people saying “dekho woh kala bandha” or “kala bandhar.” Yes, the words used may be normal yet it certainly implies the guy color as unusual as if he is from another planet. It is even sadder when our fellow south Indians experienced the same comments because of the similarity of skin color.

Do we ever think about if the other person will get hurt mentally and emotionally because of the derogatory racial remarks intended as jokes? We have to stop this and together we can do it. And for the Indians from north eastern states of India, our appearance became the focal point of racially motivated derogatory comments. But I’m not sure about other factors motivating racism except for our physical appearance and style of living. I also believed the perception of some people thinking the communities from north east doesn't have culture just breaks my heart… :(. But I do have a question for them, “What is your culture that disrespect other communities and not able to tolerate other culture?” It is kind of hypocritical to have this perception without actually knowing other culture and way of living. I think the act of humility to respect other communities and the ability to tolerate different culture cannot be learn from a textbook in school or college rather humility is moral education that has to be exemplified by parents or elders to their children.

Education can play a very important role to wipe out racism from India. From grassroots level, the integration of culture and tradition of north east India in a textbook and to be included as compulsory syllabus of CBSE as well as respective States education board is vital. When I was in high school, we have a subject/textbook called Social Studies. From this subject/textbook, we learned the culture and traditions of other states of India. The knowledge I gained from this particular subject/textbook is always useful whenever I meet new people from other states and it helps me to speak wisely without hurting their sentiments. Hardly, you will find an educated person from north India or south India or west India racially abusing a person from north east India.

Majority of the racially motivated derogatory abuses comes from the landlords/landlady, elders, cab and auto drivers, rickshaw drivers or hawkers or conductors, etc. However, to deal the derogatory racial abuses from these people is not that easy yet it can also be deal in a very simple way, i.e. try not to have heard the racist comments and even if we have heard, let it out from either side of your ears. The main reason for these people making the racist remarks are mostly related to their own inferior’s complex and trying to overcome it by diminishing another person origin. When the victim is provoked and retaliates, they are very ready for the confrontation which is actually the motive of the racist remarks.

Therefore, retaliation should be avoided at any cost unless you see a potential that you can teach and widen the perpetrator mindset. After all, why the heck should we take the trouble of getting involved with the fools? Do remember, ignorance is the mother of all fools… :) And ignorance can only be cured through education starting from grass root level. Maybe it is late for some people but we can change starting with our younger generation.
Anyway, for information, we are somehow protected under the “Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989” law if anyone of us is racially abused in public places, schools, colleges, office (Public and Private sector), etc., you can report the incident to the concern authority and it is far better option than retaliation.

Food for Thought: "You don't fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity." Bobby Seale.

Thank you. Have a good day!

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