Teasing someone on the basis of their colour, calling people of the NE ‘chinki’ do make you racist. But fret not, I have a guide on how not to be racist!
When I was in school, I remember this girl who studied with us. Nothing extraordinary about her. She had her own set of friends, was okay with the teachers, didn’t hate me, and was generally a regular school girl. Since we weren’t friends, I can’t tell you about her ambitions.
But I can tell you that she was bullied. She was bullied quite often and you know why? Because she was dark, in fact, I think she was the darkest skinned girl in out batch! And everyday, everyone- the boys and the girls would call her all sorts of names, ‘kalvi, kali kaluti, andhere me dikhegi bhi nai’ and so many others.
She never responded to those. Never. I’d love to say I did something to stop it but I didn’t. Mostly because I thought and was taught not to fight others battles for themselves. Plus, I had my own stuff going on. However, one day, it got too much and I finally spoke up to my surprise, that girl yelled at me! She told me to stay out of her business. So I did.
And this is coming back to me now, in light of George Floyd’s murder. While, we aren’t as personally affected by it, there are people tweeting about it, friends, acquaintances and some family. And it annoys me to see some of the guys I mentioned above doing the same.
So I asked one of them, how bullying that girl in school wasn’t racism? He responded, ‘But she wasn’t African-American! She was just dark-skinned!’
And ladies and gentlemen, I present shameless Indian colourism! Now if you, like my friend here, are ‘not’ a racist or a colourist, this checklist is for you! And if you do get more than two yes, you’re one of them!
Newsflash! That’s racism! Just because you didn’t go and do them physical harm, does NOT mean you’re any better. You are JUST AS RACIST!
You’ve told someone that if they were in a dark room, you wouldn’t be able to see them? Well, you’re racist!
Just because you don’t know where they’re from, you decided they are ‘chinki’ and called them that!
Sigh. What do I even say about this! Seriously? Can you just stop with it! Seven different states. Seven different cultures! Learn it!
Now that you know your reality, here’s what you can do. Try it, it JUST MIGHT help.
If they’re your friend, and you want to tease them, there are other things to be used! Tease them for their old crushes or their favourite song, for all I care! But please do not use their skin colour or where they come from to make fun of them!
Besan is good only to make pakoras and other food. Putting it on your face or asking anyone to do so, doesn’t help. Stop it, already! Do not tell them about this cream and that treatment. If they want, they can do it themselves!
You see someone wearing a bright dress? Let her be and appreciate her to be bold enough to do what you couldn’t! Same goes for bright lipstick. Don’t EVEN think of telling anyone that because they’re dark, they must avoid certain colours! Just, don’t.
It is a common notion that people from NE are good at football, and a number of them are. BUT NOT ALL. So, stop it! Neither are ANY of them from China. It is that hard to understand?
Yes, they are from the North East. No, it is not one big state. And NO, they don’t all know each other!
It doesn’t take much to generally simply be kind and not name, profile, hate people. Try it. If you don’t have anything good to say, keep your mouth shut. I am sure you’re smart enough to be able to do that!
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Pink
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Reader, writer and currently an Associate Editor at Women's Web, I survive on coffee
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