Bloody Racists

I have a friend who is extremely insistent on the point that Indians are one of the biggest racists. I have always wondered if a word as strong as racist is appropriate. I agree we are the ones who would stereotype faster than anybody else starting from “Gora”, “Kala”, “Chinky”, “Thulla”, “Software Wala”, “Sarkari Babu”, “North Indian”, “South Indian” are some of the most common stereotypes you would find people using.
I believe the key component which makes racism a negative trait is the belief or actions that a race or a stereotype in a way is inferior to others. The negativity of the racism stems from the fact that when the person stereotyping start treating himself as superior or inferior based on the race. The places or system starts differentiating people or the laws change for the people based on the race. As far as I know this negative kind of Racism is very limited in India; though we are involved in a different kind of phenomenon called Castism which differentiates based on birth but not on race/color of skin/ ethinicity.
Coming back to the point of Indians being racist, I have my doubts that people I interact with or myself are racist, though a lot of us including me can be accused of stereotyping and grouping people based on one way or the other but then do we get prejudiced against people of different race, or we bear unnatural hatred towards them? I don’t think so. We might group people, habits, culture and refer them with our stereotype but then we do not perpetuate hatred. I believe there have been some instances that these kind of sentiments are propagated but then it is not in lines of what actual racism is. We as a group of people might be conservative on who we marry and bring in family but that is more due to the cultural differences rather than the fact that we think that some other race is inferior to us in some way.
On the contrary I feel in a country like us it is close to impossible to be racist when there is a potpourri or cultures amalgamating and coexisting with one another it is very difficult to be racist, to feel hatred and superiority against the other. So what do you feel, are we Indians as a population primarily racist as my friend believes it to be or we are a bunch of people who are a tad too quick while generalizing and stereotyping?

13 comments on “Bloody Racists”

  1. Ramesh Reply

    Alas, I am with your friend Prats. All generalisations are wrong and there are many Indians who are wonderfully egalitarian, but I am afraid many have an innate racist streak. Blacks are looked down upon – a white son or daughter in law might be tolerable, but a black would not. Even whites are considered loose and amoral in general. The yellow race is considered very low too. There is a streak or moral superiority in us that I find completely misplaced. This is more than stereotyping, which all cultures and societies have.

    I found a completely different type of racism in China. All white men were considered inherently superior and therefore to be deferred to. Any other colour was beneath contempt.

    I should qualify again that such sweeping generalisations would offend those who are truly non racist and to them a deep apology is in order.

    • Prats Reply

      @Ramesh: Interestingly a lot of people agree with my friend… But somehow I always thought that people didn’t took a superior ground and there was stereotyping but no looking down upon… But then perhaps I am wrong. It is a fine line.

  2. Psych Babbler Reply

    I am partly with your friend. I do think Indians discriminate based on skin colour. You only have to see the north vs south divide to know that. South Indians with darker skin are considered to be inferior. Plus Indians do consider those with African heritage or Asian (Chinese etc) as inferior too. Maybe a better term for Indians would be bigots. Definition of a bigot is “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ” and Indians are definitely bigoted based on caste, colour, religion, region, class. I’ve said it before on my blog and I’ll say it again: I’ve faced more discrimination in India than I do where I currently am…supposedly a very racist country! In Aus as well, the only place I’ve been discriminated against was at the Indian consulate because I didn’t speak Hindi or Marathi and they were extremely rude to me and this one other Indian guy who didn’t speak either of those languages too.

    • Prats Reply

      @PsychBabbler: I agree indians discriminate or rather identify and react to differe skin color but is there a sense of superiority or inferiority because of the skin color. I agree when it comes to marriages etc people in India want fair color but that is because they think it is more beautiful not because white skin indicates a superior race… Again as I said earlier it is a very fine line.

  3. Sapna Reply

    Me with your frnd too. We may not be racists in a strict sense but discriminating on colour, language, caste, religion is very much a part of our culture.

    Then again it may be just a human element.

    • Prats Reply

      @Sapna: Hmmm I agree with that it is a part of our culture; all I felt was we don’t treat people unfairly becuase of that.

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  5. Reema Reply

    I agree with your friend!! “We might group people, habits, culture and refer them with our stereotype but then we do not perpetuate hatred.” are you kidding me??? what about Raj T and his followers? how about the hindus vs muslims in India?

    • Prats Reply

      @Reema: Raj T is politics more than actual hatred and he is trying to spread it….. I don’t really have an answer to Hindus vs Muslims.

  6. Rasana Atreya Reply

    We’re racist. No question about it. I’m seeing a lot more of it now. There is a man I know, who will not allow his son to wear shorts & t-shirt (only long sleeved shirts & long pants) even in the summer because he is so concerned about protecting the child’s colour.

    I was sitting in the park the other day, watching my kids play, when a young child, very pretty, came up and lay her head in her mother’s lap. Another woman there greeted this child – Hi, Black Beauty!

    I was shocked.

    I’m a fair-skinned South Indian who lives in Hyderabad. My son told me that there is a North India girl in his class who is not allowed to play with “darkies”.

    If this isn’t racism, I don’t know what is.

    And what about those fairness creams?
    Indian television is overrun with commercials from the manufacturers of skin lightening creams that promise everything from good grades to nirvana, if only you use their particular brand of product.

    I was so incensed with these that I came up with a tongue-in-cheek tagline: Fairness Cream: Finding Solutions to Life’s Vexing Problems, One Application at a Time.

    Then I wrote a whole novel around it.

    • Rasana Atreya Reply

      And the reason I mention I’m fair-skinned in the comment above is not because I care, but the colour of one’s skin shouldn’t stop one from finding this behaviour offensive.

      • Prats Reply

        @Rasana: I Understand your intent and that is a fair point and very close to the point I am trying to make.

    • Prats Reply

      @Rasana: These are horrible stories and I agree they are racist but the point is you were shocked, so was I and I believe most of the people reading this blog would be. I am only wondering what characterize us as a society the people who made that discrimination or people like us who think it is wrong.

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