I used to think racism is a problem especially relevant in countries such as United States and South Africa. After Martin Luther King’s Black movement in the 1960’s, US made some progress by giving equal rights to both black and white. Nevertheless the situation has not been fully stable since at least 2-3 cases of racial violence are reported every month and also it’s getting worse under the presidency of Donald Trump. But hey! India has never been racist right! I mean how often you get to hear stories like a fairly white man in Delhi goes and beats up the black owner of a South Indian restaurant just because they made better coffee than he could ever make. Obviously we had developed our own system of discrimination which is centred on caste. Caste system was said to be introduced in the early days to bring social order but honestly I don’t even know why it exists today. But let me assure you that we Indians are racists at our core.
My enlightenment began after I started watching news channels on TV. Before you might start thinking that I am going to present a story on how a debate on racism unfolded, let me assure that news channels are busy on more important issues such as which celebrities attended Virat-Anushka wedding and conducting exit polls on who is going to win Big Boss 11. Racism was bought to my attention by something news channels are not famous for. Ads
Ads are like exams, they are not something that you wished to not exist but are forced to go through. The ads of news channels are slightly different from the one’s you regularly see in the sense that they contain the ads’ of their own channels and believe me when I say that those ads are something. I mean look at those shots, those effects, that background music. They look less like promotion ads and more like a trailer of a film on alien invasion. And don’t even ask about regional news channels. The fact that I am from South and sometimes I have to watch them with my parents doesn’t help at all. In the midst of these ‘sensationalistic journalism ads’ one ad by NDTV 24×7 which was completely different from the regular genre specially stood out. In that ad a woman says that in a country where 80% of the population has dark skin, people must be proud of their skin colour and not subject themselves to racism and further said that NDTV has done a great job by banning fairness commercials in their news network. Just for the record the video was shot in black and white so I don’t exactly know what her skin colour is (very well played NDTV). I don’t remember what she said later on but the message was already received.
That ad was a literal eye opener. Obviously we all know that those commercials of fair and lovely are bogus. I bet after a few years we will be seeing ads saying their cream can turn crows to pigeons. As a matter of fact a demand was put forward in Rajya Sabha in 2016 to ban these commercials saying that the claims put forward in these ads are bull shit and they are trying to dupe countless woman in our country. But the argument put forward by NDTV was completely different. They are telling that these products should not even exist in first place because by creating them they are trying to prove that having white skin is better than the one you have currently have. In other words…racism.
Suddenly everything became clear to me. Like why South Indian movies have mostly North Indian actresses. I used to think from my personal experience this could be because most of the South Indian girls are being force to pursue more talented courses namely engineering or medical or even better, a housewife. But the actual reason is that the audience is obsessed with white girls dancing and romancing on the big screen. Honestly at this point I can’t event blame directors or producers who recruit them as their job is to please the crowd.
The root cause which leads to these issues is the way we inherently associate beauty with colour and this is true irrespective of gender. Some people take this to a new level by even associating a person’s character with his/her colour. The best place to look for this type of racism is the matrimonial section of the newspaper. I mean look at those demands. They sound less like someone wants a life partner and more like they want a model for photo shoots. It is just hard to understand that how a dude who is 6 feet tall, white colour, Brahmin who works in US guarantee that he is going to take care of someone’s daughter. It’s frustrating how a person’s height or colour expresses the fact that he is a good guy?
Racism is a problem which exists in our country and to find a solution first we must begin to acknowledge it and yes I know that our country has to deal with more disturbing issues regarding caste and religion based oppression, but that cannot be given as an excuse to turn a blind eye to these problems which are now getting rooted deep into our society. Racism or casteism or any kind of discriminatory behaviour is not something which is inherited from parents at birth. This became evident to me by when I saw children from my housing society play with children of nearby construction labourers. As we grow society continuously imposes its rules of discrimination and even before we know we begin asking racist questions like ‘hey dude! How come you are so fair despite being a South Indian?’ Therefore if we are to progress as a society we must start by abandoning the regular ‘black and white’ rules of our society on racism.