My aunt came storming across the room. She was fuming, after reading the paper. “How could he? Stupid racist New Zealander!” She said. I asked her what had happened, when she told me about the whole New Zealand journalist, Paul Henry and the controversy with Shiela Dixit.
In a flash I myself felt a bout of antagonism towards the man in question. Of course, what he said wasn’t really acceptable. And for most of us, wasn’t acceptable at all. It was offensive, no doubt.
But after a while I couldn’t help but think about it. I tried thinking about instances back home, here and there, and practically all over, and all I got from that spur of the moment contemplation, was, ‘Who are we to say anything about it? Aren’t we equally (or even) more racist ourselves?’
We’re a blatantly racist nation. We live on racism. Most of our jokes are made on either, Sardars, Biharis, Jats, or Nepalis, hence, racist. Our old hence supposedly wise aunties, judge everything from their future employee to future daughter-in-laws on the basis of colour.
Our racism is not just limited within our own country. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Fashion’, the moment where she does realise that she’s ruining her life is when she wakes up to notice that she’d been sleeping with a black man. Now tell me if that wasn’t racist?
One of our favourite comedians, Russell Peters (of Indian origin), lives on his oh-so-racist jokes. And the best part is all of us laugh at his funny imitation of the Chinese accent and jokes about Jews and Arabs.
And haven’t we all laughed at those numerous ‘blonde jokes’ and the Nepali who will be doomed to be a watchman forever.
One of my relatives once told me how ‘unsafe’ it was to live in this particular colony in Delhi because there were so many ‘Negroes‘ living there and hence it was not a safe place because they are supposedly ‘dangerous’ people.
The point I’m trying to make here is that we (Indians especially) are innately racist. And thus we have no right to condemn anything which we can remotely call racist.
Of course, these are racist generalisations we all make. Whereas, what Mr. Paul Henry said was outright offensive, but bad-mouthing him for passing a racist comment may have been somewhat hypocritical on our part.
Hopefully we’ll stop being racist someday. But I guess that’s just too much to ask for. But the least we can do is stop being so intolerant towards racist comments when we ourselves are an outright racist nation.