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The Internal Journey of Immigrants

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Guest Post: Love Thy Neighbor

By Sundeep Joseph

Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov

Credit: Igor Ovsyannykov

Stereotypes exist, we see them every day whether we realize it or not. Maybe Asians really can’t drive and maybe Black people do love chicken. In the end, it is all a result of upbringing. The media paints a picture for us about racism abroad but racism on home ground is rarely discussed as unapologetically.

We only realize how real it is when it hits us personally in the face. Until then, we are quite content to form our stances, voice our opinions and do very little about it.

In India, 'racism' runs rampant on a whole different level. 

I don’t mean it’s worse here, I mean it is literally very different. To get a brief idea let’s go back a few decades, when the “great”  nations of the world were constantly invading one another’s land (so unlike the civilized countries of today) and forcing the people of these lands to pick cotton and into all kinds of despicable slavery. Abraham Lincoln in his wisdom abolished slavery, which led to the comparative freedom of all the people.

However when the British landed in India ready to turn us all into cotton picking slaves, the Indian Zamindars were like “Hold on fair-skinned bros, we got this, we’ve already enslaved a large amount of the population and created the perfect race already, you can have all these amenities and facilities for just a small commission.”  Long story short, thanks to the joy of the caste system and greed, the country was forced into slavery for many years. Not that the dark skinned untouchables were doing any better before that.

It’s funny that for many years we tolerated the British forcing us to work, while they raped our women and lands. What we couldn’t tolerate was the fact that Muslims don’t like pork and that Hindus don’t like beef and both were forced to put cartridges made of these meats in their mouths. We would have fought in someone else’s army for a few more years if this “grave” injustice was not committed. This is what actually sparked the fire of our revolution. To this day our priorities and stances have not changed too much.

In this modern age of globalization, we have had a love-hate journey of following, admiring and despising Western culture.

But to be honest we have not changed much in our 70 something years of freedom. We are still arrogant, the caste system runs rampant although in different ways, our women are still raped and a good number of us are always ready to bow our heads down and say “Yes Sir”. It might just be the way we are wired.

Indians also have a different degree of racism for the different races. We were not racist towards black people at first, but when their scams started to make more money than the local scams, the police unleashed their general frustration on them and continue to scrutinize them to this day. They however continue to pose as princes of Nigeria and steal many a lonely heart and wallet. If it is any consolation though (which it isn’t), the dark-skinned Indians from lower caste backgrounds are treated just about the same way.

To say that all Indians are really smart compared to the rest of the world is just a stereotype, in truth we’re just a people who are always willing to serve, whether it’s helping you out with your computer problems or fixing your drain pipe. There is nothing that we are not willing to do and in turn nothing that we cannot do. However what we have in enthusiasm and brains, we lack in education and morals. We respect and put our parents up on pedestals but have no proper sense of community. We are patriotic when it is convenient for us and prefer half an opportunity abroad over 2 full opportunities at home. The Indians who settle down abroad are confused about their homeland, they know they cannot change the way it is and can only criticize or defend it from a distance. But if you do not like the way things work at home and if you do not try to change it yourself, who will?

The funniest thing about our racism is that we’re more racist towards our own kind than any other race. Foreigners will always be treated like kings or at the very least be stared at like some angels that fell from the sky. They will always be overcharged everywhere they go but more notably, he or she will be invited to every home and the best cutlery will be laid out. On the other hand a Malayali will think twice before inviting his Tamilian neighbour over and the both of them will harbor a similar grudge to the Bengali who lives down the street. Maybe I am exaggerating on all fronts, we don’t despise each other but our hatred for Indians from different cities is far greater than our mild and rare hatred for white people.

The truth is that Indian mentality can be classified more selfish than racist.

Because we’re all just looking out for ourselves and our loved ones. We will screw over or destroy anyone from any nationality who gets in the way of that. One of our anecdotes describes us as crabs: we’re more likely to pull each other down when we’re trapped in a pit or basket. I would like to believe that when necessary we will unite as a people. I have that hope for everyone, Indian or not, just the optimist in me speaking.

When it comes to emotions and matters of the heart that require actual talking about, we are very slow learners. We can barely deal with seeing a boy and girl walking together on a road, let alone these “new and evil” ideals such as inter-religious marriages or even worse homosexuality or. Thankfully, we are progressing a little, our women are finding a voice, our men are claiming less ignorance than we used to and most importantly our 'misguided youth' are always ready to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We are progressing slow and steady like a crab moving sideways in the wrong direction but even little progress is progress.

The views and opinions expressed on this article are soley those of the original author.