Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fifty Shades of Racism

Activism can easily overspill into the territory of hate. Opinions may start to come in the shapes of offence or defence. To be objective, one can become apathetic or ignorant. It is all very confusing.
Wordsmithing in such confusing times becomes paramount. Diversity and racism are two such influential words coined in recent times. Amusingly, they are often considered antonyms.

In a country where hate-speech is criminalized and diversity is chic, where one MUST write the word Aboriginal with a capital 'A' –you would assume that racism wont be popular culture. More likely it isn't, in black and white (no pun intended). But there are fifty shades of grey that still persist.

"I love your kind of people", says a stranger on the street when he sees me walking with two other visible minorities.

"Was it you or XYZ (an Iranian girl) I spoke to regarding a communications project?" says a colleague for the 100th time when speaking to the only communications person on the team – a Pakistani girl.

"Do you know what a pizza is?", asks a well-meaning acquaintance who is fascinated with my humble origins.

And when I am spoken down to with the assumption that I would be meek, submissive and most likely deficient just because I am a woman from a country where women are known to be suppressed, controlled, marginalized and often killed.

Ironically, the minorities also carry similar biases. 'White and privileged' is one of the first derogatory terms used to describe someone who is just not liked.

Maybe racism and all its shades have become innate in all of us – like sexism. The inferiority and superiority complexes inbred in us from our tumultuous and glorified histories. Like a congenital disease that does not have very obvious symptoms, in all likelihood is incurable and causes deep pain not to our bodies but our souls.