Racism has no place in India – Christine Pemberton

Christine Pemberton“We must all, across the board, aim to root out that racial joke, that knee-jerk racial stereotyping—kitna paisa springs to mind, as does the distasteful kali peeli. Sadly, much of India’s racism and colourism, if I may coin my own word, is also misogynist. A white woman wears a skirt, shows her arms, shows her legs = she is loose = she is available.” – Christine Pemberton

Somnath BhartiI learned this week from no other than the Indian Government that racism is, and I quote, “anathema” to India. Please make sure to tell that to the African women in Delhi, stereotyped as prostitutes (kitna paisa men whisper to them as they walk past).

Tell that to every white foreigner who has been stared at/gawped at/touched. Damn it, tell that to your own beautiful girls from the North-Eastern States who, in the very same newspaper that quoted the anathema remark, reported that 81 per cent of these girls have been harassed in Delhi. Go on, tell that to every Indian who placed a marriage advertisement requesting a partner with a “wheatish” complexion. Tell that to the legions of fabulous, caring, devoted Malayali nurses, whose skin colour has been denigrated.

Tell that to the woman at a wedding I recently attended who saw my daughter and without bothering to introduce herself, nor ask my name nor my daughter’s name had only the following to say, “That fair girl. How old is she? Is she married?” So, for crying out loud, don’t waste your breath, Indian Government, nor our time with humbug like “India … racism … anathema.”

Genet ZewdieI would have much more respect for a politician who had the guts to stand up and say, “Yes, sadly, racism does exist, colour prejudice does exist. Yes, they absolutely both exist here in India. But we are educating our people to avoid such crass judgements based on nothing more than skin tone.” Realistically, racism exists everywhere. We all know that. So, until we as a global human race manage to root out such a fundamental prejudice, we need to focus on what is important.

And that is not sappy sound bytes but education, education, education. We must all, across the board, aim to root out that racial joke, that knee-jerk racial stereotyping—kitna paisa springs to mind, as does the distasteful kali peeli. Sadly, much of India’s racism and colourism, if I may coin my own word, is also misogynist. A white woman wears a skirt, shows her arms, shows her legs = she is loose = she is available.

A black woman … well, she is a hooker, plain and simple. God alone knows where that logic comes from. Having lived in Africa, I have a definite soft spot for the continent, which is full of tough clever North-eastern Indianswomen, many of them way better educated than the average kitna paisa type of creep, so I imagine the hooker innuendos are nothing more than low down racism, with not even a basis in prejudice.

And moving to India’s own beautiful North-Eastern women, who are by African students in Indiaand large very well-educated, pretty, work-oriented, and often more outgoing and emancipated than your average girl—why are they singled out? Wearing a skirt makes them available? The fact they have left their families and come to Delhi to get a better education or a better job makes then available? At least 27 per cent of the discrimination meted out to these poor girls, according to the report I mentioned above, consists of being “mistaken as a foreigner and then verbally abused”.

Great. Just great. Two for the price of one. Make a mistake and then abuse. We can all of us make a personal effort not to be racist/colourist, and indeed we all should. We have to. And the only way to carry this forward is, yet again, through education, education, education. This should start in school, and should be constantly reinforced at every level in the work place, in the police force, in every aspect of our lives, so that the purveyors of ugly kitna paisa and kali peeli remarks go out of business. – NitiCentral, 25 January 2014

Nigerian students