And who are we to talk about Racism?

A candid conversation with a close friend has left me distressed and besides myself. This close friend in question is a girl of impeccable upbringing, smart, very talented and educated. What I am trying to establish is that she is as regular and as extraordinary as you and me. And, yes, she is from Shillong, Meghalaya. And that has made all the difference.

While she sat across me and narrated one tale after the other of the amount of harassment and ill treatment she has received on account of looking different from others, I couldn’t help but be ashamed of ourselves and our society. Her each nasty encounter has been stamped by branding “her looks” as the reason for it. From Pune to Bangalore to Delhi, each city has been worse than the other

It’s not that I wasn’t aware of this prejudice. I have heard such remarks directed to anybody and everybody from North Eastern part of India. I have also read a lot about it. But hearing such firsthand encounters moved me beyond words. From being called names, to random people taking her for granted and another set of equally random people questioning her character and virtue, she has been there and faced it all, in the very country of her birth.

Being a responsible, law abiding and taxpaying citizen was never enough. There was constant reminder that she wasn’t welcome in her own country. And why just her, I am sure thousands face this issue everyday in India. Who are we then, to complain about racism and question how we are treated in foreign land? When in our own country we are biased and laced with prejudice against people from North East?

She has now moved out of India and she frankly she feels more at home and safer there than she ever felt in India. She is also beyond rage and angst. It’s like she has made her peace with it. This is a collective failure of the society and its inhabitants. How much more time will we take to get out act right?

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13 Responses to And who are we to talk about Racism?

  1. meethimirchi says:

    We INDIANS are not racists , but Profiling is not crime . and that’s what is happening , when and Indian is assaulted cz he wore a turban or tilak etc is big news in India But in India if the same thing happens it is not even get into notice even police never wanna register case. I have experienced it in Bangalore and I am sure its same for all the states . Our Indian mentality .. Northi, southee, madarasi , bihari, chinky

  2. chandni says:

    @Iya: Great post. I have the c,losest friends from the north east and it saddens me everytime to hear how they are always ostracized While people will argue that it happens to all communities in India, you will see that the majority always finds strength in numbers while the minorities face a harder time. And of course, depending on where you are at the moment, you are either in the majority or the minority, but the point is, you never feel safe and “at home” in your own country. And people who jump to say “but it happes to xyz too”, two wrongs don’t make a right. .

    @meethimirchi, what do you mean by “profiling”. Judging someone as a “loose character” just because they are from the north east, is racist.

  3. anu says:

    hmm..very unfortunate. reminds me of this scene from chakk de where this girl retorts saying how will you feel when you are treated as guest in your own country. i know this prevails and it is very unfortunate 😦

  4. sad but true. I have stayed in delhi and I detest the way people brand our fellow people from NE states..its very derogatory…They are genuine people like you and me and friendly too, fun loving..pity we cant match up to their level

  5. Yes absolutely correct…I have always said this and will say it again, why do we make so much of noise when we face racism in foreign land? Take our own country – out of Bihar, you are a “Bihari”; out of Bihar & UP, you are a “Bhaiya”; out of North, you are a “North Indian”; out of South, you are a “Madrasi”; out of North-East, you are a “Chinky”. Where & when are we not labeled within India? When people say that settling in a foreign country is easier than settling in different states in India, they are not wrong!

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      true..There is this huge barrier and people make no bones by being vocal about it and then going on to harassment..

  6. rachit s. says:

    Its not only the case with NE people, its with everyone of us. Look at the way UP and Bihar people are bullied with once respective now a derogatory term bhaiya. And, the thing is not limited to passing comments or using pejorative but quiet often it takes the shape of dirty office politics and all.

    Weakest Link

    • Iya Bhatia Malhotra says:

      yes, its prevalent. my observation was from a friend’s point of view and what she has gone through..

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