“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
This blog in no way intends to hurt anyone’s sentiments. Its just my way of looking at things and my opinions and you are free to agree or disagree. I will in fact be looking forward to your views and comments on it. I don’t intend on being politically correct. However, what I do intend on doing is to present my views and opinions in a clear and unbiased manner. I urge you to not go by the title of the blog but read the thing in its entirety before framing a judgement. I hope you would like what I am going to say and if you don’t please let me know in a constructive manner.
What I will begin with is what we all know is unfortunate and condemnable and no one on the face of the earth should have to go through. George Floyd’s death has left me heartbroken. It has made me question the ethics of the world we are living in and how even in 2020 there are people who are not done with their racial prejudices and biases and that costed an innocent man his life. We are in 2020 and the amount of pigmentation in someone’s skin is the deciding factor for whether they have the right to live or not. It’s sad, disturbing but its the grim reality and I am glad that finally people have come together and are speaking about it. It’s high time they did that and the protests in the US are proof that people are uncomfortable living in a society that’s racist.
The solidarity US has shown and the reaction to racism they have shown is incredible. If anyone needed a wake up call then this is it. If someone needed to understand why the ‘N word’ is offensive then this is it. If someone needed to understand why judging people just on the basis of their skin color is probematic then this is it. As Toni Morrison said “There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race- scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct and it has its benefits. Money can be made off of it, people who don’t like themselves can feel better because of it, it can describe certain kinds of behaviour that are wrong or misleading, so it has a social function, racism.” Something that is ingrained and so deep rooted is finally receiving the outrage it should have. Now you might come at me with how being a South Asian we can support the movement and perhaps why should you support it. Here is the answer. You can support it by unlearning and doing away with the inbuilt prejudices you have. Its 2020 and you can’t say that this is what I was taught while growing up. You can unlearn and there’s a lot to unlearn. Erasing the word ‘Kallu’/’Kalla’/’the N word’ and the likes from your dictionary and steering drawing room conversations towards a more inclusive environment are some of the ways to begin with. About why you should do it is because it’s 2020 and you can’t use racial slurs. You just can not because they are problematic and make people feel inferior. You should do it because the very country you live in is not comfortable with dark skin. You should do it because the very country you live in has people thinking that having dark skin is problematic and targets people from certain states and areas based on their features and their skin colour.
Most importantly, if you are speaking against injustice, atrocities, systemic oppression, racism, colourism, muzzling of press freedom, and ask government for accountability in a foreign country then thank you for that and I appreciate you for doing that. I thank you for speaking up and coming together for a very important cause but I ask you what happens to your voice when it happens back home? Why are you silent then? Is it because addressing the issues in your own country and asking your own government for accountability so not ‘cool’? Is it that living in a third world country and addressing the issues here will tell people whose side are you on? Or is it because fighting against injustice in a country far away from yours is easy and convenient? Or is it because its not a ‘hashtag’ movement? My problem does not lie with people who are not vocal or not going crazy or overboard posting stories or posts on social media. No, it does not. I have friends who won’t post a thing but will have the most intelligent and important discussions about these issues. My problem lies with people who are selectively outrageous or whose moral compass suddenly point towards the north but when it was happening back home they were silent. Yes, I am coming to celebrities next.
I am from India and here before we learn to speak we learn grooving to Bollywood’s numbers. I have a nephew who is not even one year old yet and he does that so I speak from personal experience and I find it problematic because Indian songs have some kind of obsession with ‘fair skin’. There are plenty of songs which glorify racism by not giving subtle hints but in clear terms. Let me just point out five songs for you and you can decide for yourself. Here’s the list.
1. Chittiyan Kalaiyan Ve (Roy)
2. Tainu Kaala Chashma Jacjhda Hai, Jachda Hai Gore Mukhde Te (Baar Baar Dekho)
3. Yeh Gore Gore Se Chorre (Hum Tum)
4. Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, Yeh Gore Gore Gaal (Baazigar)
5. Goriya Churana Mera Jeeya (Coolie No.1)
These are just five songs. There are countless like those and don’t even get me started about fairness creams and the actresses the advertisements cast. Over the years the terms that are used have evolved and now they are called ‘skin lightening creams’ or promise to give a ‘white glow’ or to reduce the ‘Melanin levels in your skin’. Without taking any names I want to point out the hypocrisy of ‘woke’ Indian celebrities who are posting ‘Black Lives Matter’. Of course they do and definitely you should be supporting the cause but at the same time you should not be promoting the idea of fairness creams or laser treatments which negate the entire cause itself.
Add to that the silence they chose to keep when violence manifested in their own backyard, when the anti CAA/NRC protests broke out around the country, when migrants died on roads, when the poor suffered due to the incompetence of the government, when Delhi was burning, when there was a complete lockdown in Kashmir for over 8 months even without basic services, and when armed forces and people with ammunitions entered some of the most prestigious universities in their own country, when their own country’s constitution was violated, when the idea on which India was founded was destroyed. And their silence about all of this made me question about how and why they don’t look at the picture in totality. Why you won’t call out the systemic problems in your own country? Maybe what I am trying to say is call out and address the problems in your own country, create a movement of your own, my dear ‘woke’ Indian celebrities. Because with a voice like yours which can reach millions, you can be the change! And because in the bigger picture there might be a ‘self’ and the ‘other’ but there is no ‘we’ and ‘them’. It’s us!
I will leave this here for you all to decide why the Black Lives Matter Movement is important and was long coming. I will leave it for you to decide how you can bring about change. I will leave it upon you to decide whether what I said made any sense to you or not. This is perhaps the longest blog I have written and I have poured out all my thoughts for you to consider and think!