Friday, 1 May 2015
‘He is a racist!’, ‘She is a racist!’, ‘They’re a bunch of racists!’, ‘It is a racist nation!’ etc. are phrases that you keep hearing all the time. I don’t aim to post another article over and above a million already posted on how condemnable the culture of racism is and how it affects those targeted, etc. Very often, I often find that people, who accuse everyone else of being racist, often do have such inclinations themselves and I wonder, how many people making such allegations are actually aware what the term means?
Well, I understand that there is a dilemma with regard to whether the term is applicable only for racial discrimination or it also includes ethnic discrimination? Is it applicable only from those perceived to be from a so called ‘superior’ race / ethnicity or is it neutral? If you go blindly by the lexicon, this is what it says:
‘Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior’ – Oxford Dictionary
Here, it talks only about the race of the person but nothing beyond the race (where the scope is very limited) and more importantly, it also is neutral in its definition, by which, it means, a Caucasian making a snide remark on a Black based on her / his race is a racist remark and so is the converse, equally so, which is very often ignored. But then, based on what I have observed, if the simile monkey is used on a Black, it is immediately deemed racist but the same isn’t done so when a Caucasian is referred to as a swine (while I don’t encourage the use of the former, and is in fact quite condemnable but I’d say that if the former qualifies as a racist remark, the latter equally does). The reason why I contemplate on this a lot is, because, very often, I find that the historic victims of racism love playing the card and the same is often exploited, be it in football matches or political speeches wherein, anything is accused as being racist but at the same time, those who play the victim card, make similar personal attacks on their opponent which just gets termed as a ‘aggressive speech’ or at the most, an ‘abusive speech’ but is never termed racist unlike what normally happens to speeches given by delegates of a race who haven’t been victims of the phenomenon historically. At this moment, I’m reminded of a couple of dialogues from Yes Prime Minister where Prime Minister James Hacker was discussing education and when a concern was raised that some of the public schools teach more Hindi than English, this is what James Hacker had to say –
‘I know that English is more important than Hindi in this country but I’d dare not say that in public for I’d immediately by accused of racism. Last week, at the ethnic awareness council, I happened to glance at my watch when a black woman delegate was delivering her speech and I was immediately accused of racist body language.’ – The National Education Service – Season 2, Episode 7
The next is the confusion regarding ethnic discrimination and as seen above, while the dictionary doesn’t touch upon it and doesn’t include it within the ambit, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination does not differentiate between ethnic and racial discrimination and is very much included in the scope of the term. So, now comes the question, very often , friends of mine who return from abroad claim that some were racist towards her/him and when I ask how, in most cases, the reason would be owing to some stereotype or plain ignorance of the other person and occasionally, it is a racist remark indicating superiority. However, a lot of these people, make such snide remarks about people from other provinces, often based on ethnicity, make a lot of judgements based on stereotypes and at the same time are hypocritical enough to accuse everyone else of racism barring themselves.
While personally, I myself am from a region in this world usually perceived as victims of racism (even though the situation in this region by itself, isn’t much different, internally) but the reason why I’ve a soft corner for those from a so called ‘superior’ race is because, I know a lot of people from that category, who have no belief in racism, see everyone as equals and are yet, accused of being racism and that is when, I feel, the so called oppressed are taking advantage of the laws in favour of them and take every single jibe far too seriously and interpret them as racist (I recall a lot of incidents in sports).
Before concluding on this, let me make it very clear that I’m completely against racism, of all kinds, personally, I don’t even acknowledge race and ethnicity and also, I don’t deny that there are people who are victims to racism but at the same time, the more we introspect, the more we realise that there is a racist within most of us (even the victims – actual or perceived) and the reason why I wrote this is for us to do that introspection and kill that racist in us.
May the future be a world where we sail beyond all these narrow ideologies carried forward from the medieval era.
Have a nice day,