The atmosphere was rife with agitation, anxiety and agony. A 27-year-old Congolese man died of a heart attack after being arrested for possessing illegal psychotropic ecstasy pills. A group of Congolese students, however, were skeptical about this death being unmediated. While protesting outside the police station in Bengaluru South, six students were injured.
Bollywood & Racism
While we can’t vouch for the accused, this wasn’t an isolated incident. It wasn’t the first time a family member or a friend was ridiculed or killed, but it had to be the last. Slogans ricocheted across the world when it happened in the U.S.A, an elite country. Bollywood celebrities posted blank pictures with the hashtag #Icantbreathe to extend their support to the anti-racism movement – the same Bollywood celebrities who had previously promoted colorist makeup brands. The 2020 BLM protests were a movement – a revolution, but much has remained the same here. The radio silence following every racist incident in India only makes us question if rebellion and accountability are okay when it’s a popular opinion.
About 25,000 African students are enrolled in over 500 Indian universities as of May 2021. Sudan and Nigeria are among the top five countries whose citizens study in India. However, very few of them have had good experiences. African students are often accused of prostitution, drug peddling and even cannibalism. They are mocked for their appearance, fashion choices, language and called ‘bandars‘ (monkeys). Parents warn their kids about them and landlords refuse to rent houses. Even if they do, the rent is exorbitant.
Racism in the Northeast
North Easterners are targets of racism just as much. They’re only accepted as citizens of India if there are strings attached.
‘A policeman stopped me to ask if I was Japanese, Chinese, or Korean. I was simply minding my business while on a walk. It was uncalled for,’ says a 20-year-old Tibetan student. Going further down the line, Nido Tanaim from Arunanchal Pradesh was beaten to death following a brawl with a local shopkeeper in Delhi. The locals had taunted Nido for his appearance. Even being a Congress MLA, Nido Pavitra’s son couldn’t save him.
Indians are often quick to express their contempt towards dark-skinned people. However, much should to attributed to colorism bring a learned behavior. British colonisers declared the beauty standard was pure white skin and red lips. Despite this exploitation being common knowledge to us, we still side with our caucasian colonisers over people of colour who were subject to similar discrimination.