When we think of racism, the first to hit our minds are the colours black and white. The whole idea of racism has been popularized by the wrongful and immoral discrimination that is made among the people belonging to different skin tones. It is a well known, but a sad fact that people with darker skin are ill treated at many places across the globe. What is lesser known, however, is the fact that fair coloured people also have to undergo similar mistreatment at some of the places. Although this mentality is not widespread in current times, and is vaporizing fast, the real concern about racism in our country is only growing.
While the discrimination between two colours is probably what defines racism globally, in India, it has more forms than our imagination probably allows. When was the last time you received, or shared a ‘Sardar’ or a ‘Jaat’ joke? But as we know, these are just jokes whose sole purpose is to make people laugh, even if it means to laugh at someone. What is the first thing that comes to our minds when we think of ‘Baniyas’? Bravo! You got that right! And wait, did I mention anything about women drivers? ‘Woman driver’ has become synonymous with ‘bad driver’. Time for a quick question; how many times have you witnessed or been involved in a road accident? How many of those actually involved women drivers? But come on, don’t let that matter. It is fun teasing the women for their driving skills, isn’t it? Most people from Delhi or Mumbai dislike those from Bihar. This is the same state who gave our nation its first President, apart from a notable number of IAS officers. You get the idea. Talking of discrimination, I’m reminded of a country within India, the North-East. Well, it almost feels like another country, thanks to the majority of Indians who believe that people from north eastern states are from China. I guess that’s where we inherited the word ‘Chinki’ from. Again, don’t get me wrong! It’s just our way of showing love, isn’t it? We, sir, are not racists! Never!
When we tend to link a trait or mentality with a certain group of people, it’s not essentially racism. Not by the definition meaning. Where it falls is under the umbrella of stereotyping. Stereotyping, by the dictionary, is an “oversimplified, usually pejorative, attitude people hold toward those outside one’s own experience who are different. They are a result of incomplete or distorted information accepted as fact without question.” Big words! Let me try to simplify. Stereotyping is associating a group of people having one or more common characteristics, to a common trait, without verification. If ten members of group X are uneducated, it makes us believe that the entire group is. That’s basically judging lakhs of people by a mere ten! This kind of judgement in itself is perhaps harmless, but it gets dirty, prejudicial and hurtful when these lakhs of people are made fun of, and thrown sarcastic remarks at, by others. This is where the transition from stereotyping to racism begins. This is where the concern manifests.
It’s not hard to imagine how it feels to be falsely attributed to some negative or silly characteristic, and being laughed at by others. Why do we condemn discrimination based on skin colour when we don’t mind discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, states, castes and gender? Do we really believe that some groups of the society are inferior to others? If not, is this the best mode of sharing laughter? We all know the answer. It’s high time that we realize the wrong and stop it. It’s our moral responsibility to spread the message and discourage this racism in disguise. You and I are humans, no less, and certainly no more. Let’s keep it that way.
Remember, when you label them, you negate them!