I was struck by how for the first time the media in India called 19-year-old Nido Taniam’s brutal death on Jan 31 what it actually was: a racist, mob-lynching.
The only reason Nido was attacked and beaten with rods and sticks, was because of his oriental features.
There continue to be such extreme forms of discrimination and violence all over India against Indians from the seven states in India’s North-east who have oriental features. North-eastern women in Delhi are often subject to sexual harassment and rape. 60% of Northeastern women in India’s major cities have been subject to one or another form of discrimination and abuse.
The media and much of the Indian public don’t like to acknowledge these as racist attacks.
But the fact is that there is blatant, in-your-face racism in India, reinforced with filthy racist slurs, against people with oriental and African features.
These are often passed off as “cultural differences.” However, all the states in India are culturally different with different language, foods, and customs.
But when the hatred spewed is based on racial features through the use of words like “chinky” and “Habsha” (the equivalant of ‘nigger’) it is a race-based hate crime.
Why is it so hard for Indians to acknowledge we are racist?
Do we find it so hard to say aloud the word ‘Racist’ because we are terrified that we might find our closes ones to be bigots: our parents, grandparents and siblings?
Are we terrified that the darkness we deny in our society lives in our own homes, and we dare not confront it there?
Some time ago I was telling a friend of mine how in her native state of Punjab, the sex ratio for girls has dropped so low, that the men are marrying women (many of who are trafficked actually) from North-Eastern India.
She laughed and said that could be used in my anti-gendercide campaign. “Just tell them, that if they don’t find fair, Punjabi girls to marry, they will have to marry Chinki women and have Chinki children. That will scare them!”
I know that she knew she was being racist, because she would never repeat that statement to anyone with oriental features. So what made her so comfortable with me? I told her that she was racist. She lived in the U.S. and I said “So if a white person said about your daughters, don’t marry those blackies because you will have black children, how would that make you feel?”
Maybe she did not want to think about that, because since then, we’ve not communicated much. Perhaps this is what makes the word ‘Racism’ so hard to say?