In the age of beating Africans, white skin still lords over Indians

DailyBiteApr 07, 2017 | 20:01

In the age of beating Africans, white skin still lords over Indians

BJP's Tarun Vijay is not alone in his prejudice for the "black" skin.

While everybody "ganged up" against the former BJP MP for exposing his aversion towards a skin colour that is out-and-out unwanted — but important to highlight the diversity in a democracy (read political correctness) — India in reality couldn't get rid of its reverence for the white skin. Tarun Vijay only spoke for all of us.

And while the Indian government desperately tries to correct the country's image over the issue of recent attacks on Nigerians in Greater Noida, there is no escaping the truth that the white men still enjoy immense privilege amid us because of the respect we give to their skin colour.

A foreigner living amid us is worth loving only if the person happens to be white. So much so that every time somebody mentions the word foreigner, we assume the person would be of glowing white-origin.

A Nigerian, a Zimbabwean, a Kenyan or a Congolese is not the foreigner we want to have amid us. Even worse, we don't even know the difference between them. For us they are all Blacks — and thus not worth our interest.

In this article, Melissa Tandiwe Myambo of University of Johannesburg, highlights the importance of skin colour in shaping everyday experiences of migrants in India.

How a foreigner's white privilege makes him/her more effective in the workplace. How it gives them special status in the residential buildings they live, even when they don't own it, but just rent. According to the same article, "white men from the West benefit from positive stereotypes".

 Nobody wants to be called "kala" in India.

Almost every Indian seems to think white men are wealthy and thus will prove a boon to the country's economy (or their individual fortune). And, of course, unlike all others, they are “legal” migrants.

Their "whiteness" also gives them an "exponential social and economic advantage".

While Indians can't stop admiring them enough, we express our love for the white with requests for selfies (sometimes even to total strangers. So what, they are white people!), invitations (and easy entry) to nightclubs and concerts (increases "brand value" of the place) and of course, honouring them with jobs.

Yes, whiteness is a selling point for many employers, especially education institutes. Imagine Indian parents and their expression of gratefulness when they come to know that the private school in which their child studies has a white principal? Now, if the same principal turns out to be a dark-skinned person, it won't take long for both students and parents to make fun of him as "kala bhoot".

But then Indians are not white? So why this aversion to black?

There is a reason behind this. Myambo, in her article, argues, that in India, particularly in north India, dark skin is generally associated with poverty and low-caste.

Of course, we can't deny how we as a country love to discriminate against others based on their caste, religion and skin tone.

Darker Indians have a different kind of struggle in this country. In fact, we in India believe that there are three kinds of skin tones — first comes the white (gora), then wheatish or as light brown skin (gehua) and then black (kala). So, people whose skin tone don't "qualify" to be called white, are mostly happy to settle for the gehua tag. But nobody wants to be called "kala" in India.

Our hatred and prejudice towards the dark-skinned African foreigners is so deep that we are scared to even think that we too could be black.

Black for us is bleak and murky. 

Last updated: April 07, 2017 | 20:13
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