We carry so many labels. Everyone has a sex, an age, a profession, a religion, a caste, a sub caste, a sub-sub caste, a language, and so many other characteristics that make up his or her identity. People are tall and short, thin and fat, hairy and bald; they have all sorts of distinctive features from freakishly tiny eyes to gigantic fleshy lips and a long sharp nose to large protruding ears. We don’t particularly mind people referring to any of that. Certainly there is no law forbidding anyone from speaking of these things. So what is the big deal if someone points out the amount of melanin in our skin?
And what is so terribly wrong with the colour black anyway? So long as we are comparing, an unblemished shining black body looks much better than a pale, almost lifeless white one and everyone knows why black men are such a hit in the porn industry. As a matter of fiction, Kareena has asked me out like a million times, but I am holding out for Bipasha.
We live in a time where being black or white is largely irrelevant to the quality of our lives. Gone are the days when a person was denied a certain opportunity because of the colour of his or her skin. For every Brad Pitt, there is a Will Smith, for every Winston Churchill, there is a Nelson Mandela and dare I say, for every Sachin Tendulkar, there is a Brian Lara. Consequently, the skin colour must be looked at as just another feature that we happen to have. Calling someone black is just as much an abuse as calling someone white; or calling someone a man or a woman for that matter.
While it’s true that the phenomenon of racism arises from a long standing history of mistrust and animosity between certain sets of people, not allowing people to express their feelings will only serve to deepen the hatred. When you punish someone for a racist comment, you end up creating a huge furore – it’s all over the media and instead of slowly phasing the entire concept out of peoples’ minds, you bring it in the limelight and shower it with multitudes of publicity. A more subtle approach would be better suited. The attempt should be soften the meanings of the so called racist terms so that, eventually, they become like any other mockery that doesn’t leave such a bad taste in the mouth anymore. So that when someone is called a negro, he doesn’t run around crying; he simply says ‘yeah what’s up whitey?’ and they all have a nice laugh.
In case you’re wondering where this is coming from all of a sudden, Luiz Suarez of Liverpool has been charged with a hefty fine and faces a suspension of 8 matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra ofManchester United. Yes, I am Liverpool fan. Yes, I detest Manchester United. I think that its fans are arrogant and that the club is nowhere close to as good as the media would have us believe. But this article is not about any of that. While it is impossible not to leave any traces of the mud of my biases, I have tried my best to be objective.
I know a few of you will be tempted to showcase your brilliant wit, but try not to make this a complete mockery as has been happening in our parliament these days (over an issue of far greater consequences, by the way).
PS: Written about 2 months back. The parliament was going all gaga about the lokpal bill then. Anyway, Niraj oolti yadav read this. For the uninitiated, Niraj is a extremely spontaneous person and a passionate fan of one of the aforementioned clubs. He had a few things to say:
Yes, I am Manchester United fan. Yes, I detest Liverpool. I think that its fans are loudmouths and that the club is sucking dust anyway.
1.Felt good? — Then ok, it’s all true. Go to 4.
2.Felt Bad? — Then read along. It is not about racism, It is about deterioration of a person’s basic natural right of what is called the Pursuit of Happiness. If you don’t have a problem with racism, doesn’t mean that nobody does. If Evra thinks, or Zidane thought or Mr. Mandela thought that it mentally harasses them to listen to their history and that they are ridiculed by the mere mention of it, then we have no other choice but to respect their right. I probably sounded like a racist myself in the previous line, but I guess you’d gotten my point. Say, If a lady feels uncomfortable even with a slightest bit of healthy eve-teasing, she has every right to complain about it, even if the observers feel she went overboard. It’s not upto us (by that I mean you, of course!) to decide the social tolerance levels of any individual neither should we moan about them complaining what they felt worth complaining! A racial slur was worth depriving a whole nation of the biggest trophy in football- the World Cup. So, Go ask a French football fan whether a racial abuse is just about some colour!
3. Do you remember the time when you went to your teacher in the first grade and said “Ma’m…Ye mujhe Gaali de raha tha”. Remember how it felt when the bullies used to get away with it. Try and multiply that feeling n times and imagine how an adult would have felt in the aforementioned incident.
#obviously there was only one adult involved in that duel!
4. Just a line from my all time favourite show “Don’t do the crime….If you can’t do the time!”.
Post PS: Makes sense? To me, it didn’t. I mean the guy makes an awesome attempt to convince you, but you’ve got to keep some sense of context. So I went:
Sucking Dust? Really? C’mon, we both know that’s untrue. When I said that United are not as good as the media projects them to be, I was being completely rational. It’s unfortunate that you chose to take it so personally. And for the cheap shot you took at Suarez: I am not proud of that aspect of his play, but stop acting like a sage – there are enough divers in the United line-up; not least of all, Evra himself! Anyway, this article is not about football clubs. It isn’t even about football.
The examples that you’ve cited – eve-teasing and bullying in school – are completely out of context. When one passes a comment on a girl, one is directly insulting her. So too is the case with kid getting bullied in school (It never happened to me, fortunately. I was all macho back then, you know). Now this is in stark contrast with the racism situation where the insult or its perception goes back a good 50-100 years! It is similar to the caste situation that we have here. The scheduled, the unscheduled and other backward castes hardly find it humiliating to acknowledge their identity. On the contrary, the label is almost sought after what with all the reservations! Imagine what would happen if these people decided to hold grudge for the injustice done to them in the past. Vote bank politics would hit a major road block and a certain Manchester United fan would perhaps not be studying the science of computers.
See I’m not saying that racism is good. All I’m saying is that there is a possibility that we might be making a mountain out of a molehill. Black people are just the same as white ones. The fact that a black man leads the most powerful country in the world is evidence enough. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all accepted who we are and lived in the present rather than dwelling on the past?
Final PS: Perhaps I got a little too personal at the end… one tends to get carried away a little over matters one feels passionately about. But I guess none of us are naive enough to let such petty wisecracks come in the way of our friendship.