In all probability, these are the three scenarios you involuntarily pictured on reading that term – capitalist European colonisers tormenting malnourished and poverty stricken south asians, or the murder of an Indian techie by a Trump-led American, or even a taxi driver from Kerala beaten up by a group of Australian teenagers. The Mogambos of the world – pale skinned, blonde haired, light-eyed populace – are our obvious choice of hate-crime perpetrators.
The primal reaction to this bias based on a person’s race that Indians have been victims of for centuries should ideally elicit aversion, the feeling of raw vengeance, and ultimately, total rejection of those people who humiliate us over and over again. While such a reaction is strictly not prescribed (let the law take care of it, ok?), it’s total opposite is equally absurd.
(Taxi drivers strip off during a protest on Flinders Street after a taxi driver of Indian descent was beaten up by Australian teenagers)
You see, while our countrymen acknowledge the visible dislike some members of a less pigmented race have for us, we are hell bent on being exactly like them, passively accepting our supposed inferiority to their kind. We colour our hair blonde, and hoard beauty products that promise to make us six shades lighter. We wear contact lenses to make our eyes appear blue, and when it naturally occurs in some, we blindly hand them the crown of being the most beautiful woman/man to have walked this planet.
To assure that we don’t strive to emulate our erstwhile European overlords’ physicality only, some of our fellow citizens more dedicated to the cause proved that following their racist trait was also on our agenda. Fair-skinned Indians sought a change from bullying brown-skinned Indians, and brown-skinned Indians sought an opportunity to experience the privilege their fair-skinned bullies enjoyed. So, together they joined hands and picked on a race even darker than their’s – those that hail from Africa.
A video of a Nigerian national being beaten up mercilessly and without any intervention went viral on the internet. The comment section below was replete racial slurs and abuses. Virtual support to our physical counterparts. This incident was of course just one in the wave of violent crimes against Africans in India, who make one-fifth of the foreign populace visiting our country, be it for better medical service, higher academics, official tours, or just a much looked forward to vacation.
(Nigerian students protest after the Noida attacks)
What caused the latest round of such heinous and humiliating crime? The unfortunate demise of a class twelve student from a drug overdose. Convinced of our sanskari upbringing (and despite Udta Punjab’s staggering box office collection), the culprits responsible for supplying the victim with drugs had to be foreigners, and when it comes to picking the sort of foreigner to counter-victimise we always follow the thumb-rule of pointing at the dark skinned ones. Because just.
It is high time we grew up and accepted that India is a country of racists. We cry for justice, social and moral, against racially driven attacks when we are at the receiving end of it on foreign lands.
We are a country that has industries raking in oceans of profit by thriving on stereotyping people based on the level of melanin in their skin. We love gaon ki gories, and the chand ka tukra of a neighbour. We are a country that manufactures fairness creams that come accompanied by an invention most degrading to the dignity of human existence – a shade card.
Before demanding an apology from the western community (and Australia) for their atrocities against dark skinned people, perhaps we should pick up a pen and start writing one ourself.
-by Zaiceka Ahmed