In­dia Is Racist and No­body Wants to Change

An African Amer­i­can’s first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of In­dia should make all of us think about this silent crime

Reader's Digest (India) - - ! N My Opinion -

There’s much friend­ship and love in pri­vate spa­ces, but the Delhi pub­lic lit­er­ally stops and stares. It is har­row­ing to con­stantly have chil­dren and adults tease, taunt, pick, poke and peer at you from the cor­ner of their eyes, deny­ing their own hu­man­ity as well as mine. Their crude, ag­gres­sive cu­rios­ity threat­ens to dom­i­nate un­less dis­armed by kind­ness, or met with equal ag­gres­sion.

In Lucknow, I once stood gaz­ing at gi­raffes at the zoo only to turn and see some 50 fam­i­lies gawk­ing at me rather than at the gi­raffes. Par­ents abruptly with­drew in­fants that in­quis­i­tively wan­dered to­wards me. I felt like an ex­otic African crea­ture-cum-spec­ta­cle, stir­ring fear and awe. Even my at­tempts to be­guile the pub­lic through sim­ple greet­ings or smiles are of­ten not re­cip­ro­cated. In­stead, the look of won­der swells as if this were all part of the act and we were all play­ing our parts.

Racism any­where is never a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. Racism in In­dia is sys­tem­atic and in­de­pen­dent of the pres­ence of for­eign­ers of any hue. This per­mits and pro­motes a law­less­ness and dis­dain for dark skin. Each time I visit one of Delhi’s club­houses, I no­tice that I am the dark­est per­son not wear­ing a work uni­form. Most In­dian pop icons have light, damn-near-white skin. Sev­eral film­stars even pro­mote skin­whiten­ing creams that prom­ise to im­prove one’s pop­u­lar­ity and ca­reer prospects. Such con­sumerism masks the in­ter­nal­ized racism un­der­ly­ing those fast-ac­tion TV ad­ver­tise­ments

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