“Why am I black?” a young Krishna asked her mother.
Like any other ordinary day, sitting in an ordinary room, going through ordinary news articles, I stumbled upon something that was just not ordinary. I read about an incident that made me realize the extent of hypocrisy we exhibit. It highlighted the ingrained barbaric facet of our personalities popping up its ugly head time and again.
I came to know that a few days back, four African students were brutally thrashed by a mob in Noida. The reason you ask? Well, the reason was our shallow and mindless perception of the dark-skinned people. Apparently, the locals blamed those Africans for the death of a 17-year-old teenager who died of drug overdose. The boy’s family accused their Nigerian neighbors of murder and demanded their arrest. They even accused them of cannibalism and broke into their home so as to check the refrigerator. I mean how pathetic is that. Imagine yourself being called a cannibal just because of your skin color. Absolutely horrible.
People just ‘assumed‘ that these students were responsible for the young lad’s death. Assumed? Are you kidding me? This must surely be the lowest we have fallen.
Now, I do understand their sentiments. A young life full of endless possibilities, going to waste like that. It is definitely tragic and unfortunate. But we should not allow our sentiments get the better of us. The death of an innocent cannot be avenged by hurting other innocents.
It makes us question ourselves. All this violence for what? Just because of our gullible nature and a lack of rational thought process. Unfortunately, that’s the harsh reality of our time. People being swayed by propaganda. Their unwavering faith in few cunning individuals who abuse it for personal gains. The fundamental flaw in our upbringing dawned on me.
What’s amusing is our blatant hypocrisy staring right at us. Criticizing foreign nations for being racist towards us Indians is such a common site. We never shy in bashing them out for this. Whether it’s the racial attacks in Australia, USA, UK or any other country. Although, I cannot deny the fact that we have been at the receiving end of racism numerous times. We were aggrieved upon hearing the recent Kansas shooting and equally furious when our favorite Shahrukh Khan was detained at an airport in the USA. We were preaching everyone about the abhorrence of racial discrimination while completely ignoring our own obsession with the color. We live in a country where a person is judged by his complexion. Whether it’s the movies or our society, there is always a tinge of prejudice towards certain complexioned people. What happened to all our preachings when that poor Tanzanian girl was molested in Bengaluru? Where did all those preachers go, when this Noida incident happened? Even our beloved Sushma Swaraj failed to rule it as a racial crime. What bigger testament to our hypocrisy do we need.
Being a country whose roots are deeply embedded in the idea of equality, it’s hard to wrap our head around this obsession with color. We live in a country which has never been shy of boasting its rich cultural heritage. Our preferences have always been inclined towards the idea of ‘Karma’. Almighty Lord Krishna is the biggest testament to that. A man becoming a God because of his deeds, his karma. I’m always left baffled on thinking how we drifted so away from our roots. What happened along the way? How did we reach here?
It also makes me wonder what would happen if Krishna lived in the 21st century. By watching this obsession with fairness in television and media, he would have become conscious of his own complexion. Instead of showing the path of righteousness, he would have been busy trying different fairness products. Well thank god, god doesn’t have to deal with this crap.
One thing I’ve observed though is that when it comes to our own complexion, we have a peculiar way of pleasing our egoistic selves. We never consider ourselves as dark skinned. When asked about the same, we prefer to call us wheatish. Neither black nor white but wheatish. I think this new category could be the greatest contribution to the world from us Indians (sarcasm intended). But in all seriousness, it is absolute arrogance on our part. Such neglect will never help our cause.
All being said, I don’t think that everything is lost yet. There are still millions of us, sensitive enough not to bias someone by his/her color. Even of those who are biased are mostly just a bunch of stupids idiotically following someone else. It is our biggest weakness I believe. Our faith in the mystical has made us susceptible to such people, who find it easy to abuse our faith. They are good at influencing others around them. They know exactly where to strike. This abuse of faith is quite evident in the history of our nation. Whether it was the communal violence during the partition of our country in 1947 or the Godhra riots of 2002. Whether it was the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus or the violence after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. All these ghastly events stink of misplaced faith. When have any of our religions preached violence? These events highlight the consequence of our blind faith and lack of general rationality. We are gullible, and others often try to benefit from this. It is not the hate we have towards the African community as much as our perception towards them which has been shaped by media and corporate giants. We are misled to believe that all the black people are either drug lords or gang leaders. We cannot stereotype a whole community based on very few instances. We are better than this.
Well, guess what, they are human too. Just like all of us, they too yearn human interaction. But instead, they are alienated from the society, forced to live in isolation. Looking different from us is not a fault. Imagine yourself being treated like this. Always being surrounded by suspicious stares just because of your complexion.
These pictures by Mahesh Shantaram speak plenty. Their eyes cry their stories aloud. Forlorn and forgotten but still a glint of hope in those eyes. Ask yourself how they are any different from all of us?
They are our guests, and we should know better how to treat them. We live in the land of “अतिथिदेवो भव”. So let us make them feel like guests, not some criminals. Let them go back to their countries and tell others about the rich culture of our nation, our heritage rather than the hostility we offer. Let the world know how great our country is. I call upon you all to help show the world the greatness of this beautiful nation.
I do hope things will get better. We need to make everyone aware of the predicaments they go through. It is common for us to be scared of what we don’t understand. So instead of isolating them, we should try spending some time with them. Understand them, know them. There is so much we can learn from them. They are humans, let us treat them accordingly.
Where there’s life, there’s hope. And I hope to see a change. All we need to do is to look down at our own roots.