I’ve been in a foreign country for a year-and-a-half now. The hardest part is not adjusting to the weather or food or the people. Even the accent is not hard, given we’ve all been listening to the American accent right from the advent of cable TV and Star Plus. The hard bit has been to avoid referring to people by their place of origin.
You can’t say someone’s a Jap, it’s racist. You can’t say ‘that pretty Black woman there’. You need to say ‘His accent sounds urban’, not the other thing. Which is hard given I say ‘You sound like a Gult’ or ‘TYPICAL Bong you are’ and pepper my speech liberally with Amit and Isha and Dig and Tam and whatnot when I’m talking to (Indian) friends.
Also, when you ask a Mr. Nguyen where he’s from, and he says ‘San Francisco’, you need to learn to control your impulse to ask ‘Oh.. but where are you really from?’.
Add to this plenty of Op-Eds written about ‘We Indians are so racist ya’. But instinctively, I feel you just can’t compare being called Macaca with being called Bong. I wonder why, exactly…
If anything, NITK has made me more regionalist than I was before. But not in the ‘Slap her, she’s Mallu’ way. To be frank, NITK just confirmed whatever regional stereotypes I was trying to dismiss in mind. While at the same time getting to know the people behind the stereotypes. If anything, it just made the stereotypes more complex and complicated in my head.
The reason the Western world condemns these sort of things as ‘racism’, is because classifying and referring to someone by their place of origin there in the last century or so was borne out of xenophobia and misunderstanding. And a feeling of superiority/inferiority. Whereas, for us, it is not so. There are enough Madrasis in Delhi and there are enough Amits in Chennai that calling someone a Madrasi or an Amit is just a way of referral, not something derogatory. And people from other parts of India in any given Indian city don’t ghettoize and mingle only with ‘their own people’, that anyone would see someone else as only a Bong or Bawa or Dig, or have no idea about anything else about the community than just the stereotypes.
Regional stereotypes in India don’t mean anything. My cousin calls her neighbour Nair-maami, just like she calls her upstairs neighbour maadi-veetu-Usha-maami (Usha-aunty from upstairs). It doesn’t mean anything more. And who the heck takes these stereotypes seriously? No one seriously believes all Tambrahms are paavam vegetarian silent people and no one expects every Bong to have yellow nicotine-stained fingers along with a craze for football and Dada and adda.
If anything, taking the name of your place of origin can only be seen as a celebration of our diversity. Because, heck, we are all minorities and are all so spread out over the country that you can’t say it is better to be a Reddy than to be a Gowda or that you won’t rent your house out to someone with a Maharashtrian surname, the way they do in the Western world. There is not that stark a difference between different communities in India as there is abroad, that highlighting your place of origin means much. To call all this racism in the Indian context would be incredibly shortsighted, and absolutely unnecessary. There’s no point looking at our own culture through the prism of someone else’s culture, take everything out of context to the point that everything appears absolutely wrong.
This is just like a westerner seeing Arab men holding hands in public and assuming that everyone has deep-wrought homoerotic tendencies brought about by sex segregation everywhere.
With one exception, though. I don’t like referring to folks from the Northeast as ‘Chinki’. If we keep doing that, like someone on Twitter said, let’s give up all claim to Arunachal next.
And for the party-sharty crap that infests NITK, the sooner it dies a painful death, the better.
And don’t even get me started on Fair-and-Lovely. But if you do, please don’t call it ‘racism’. ‘Skin fetishism’ is a more appropriate term
So Mr. Obama is being heralded as America’s first African-American Presidential candidate. Great, but…
This man is the offspring of a white woman and a Kenyan who had enough resources to pursue his higher studies abroad.
Brought up largely by his White grandparents.
He never really underwent what African-Americans actually go through… in terms of discrimination and lack of opportunities, if that’s what the community goes through…., he doesn’t even share a history with them.
And yet he is being heralded as some sort of a new dawn or whatever. Is this plain tokenism or is it something else?
Contrast that with India, where we’ve had a Dalit president, one of the Minority community, and a woman, too.. and we don’t seem to be making enough noise about that. And still people talk of the disparity, of minority-bashing, of us being an inequal society…
What conclusions can we draw?
PS: I’m curious to know if an African, say, a Nigerian in America and an African-American are treated the same in the USA. Is the affirmative action etc to make up for historical wrongs, or is it to provide an incentive for those who are negatively discriminated based on skin colour/ethnicity? More specifically, can a child of migrants from Botswana put down her ethnicity as African-American and walk away with all the benefits? In India we have authorities issuing caste certificates… if indeed affirmative action is provided on basis of race in the US, do they have authorities issuing race certificates? How does the whole thing work out there?
Yeah, so reams have been written about how unfair Proctor was, how unfair the entire treatment of the Indian cricket team was, how Symonds deserves to be kicked…
On another blog about this entire thing, one commenter had suggested that we googlebomb Andrew Symonds.
For the uninitiated, Googlebombing is an attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by Google.
Now as we all know, Google’s PageRank algorithm works such that a page with a larger number of links from other pages leading to it is a higher-ranked search result. And Google also makes use of the words in the link in other pages to determine how/where to index the linked page.
That translates roughly to this: If a sizeable number of us with blogs/webpages link up Symonds’ profile on Cricinfo, with the word Crybaby [the link leads to the profile], in the link, good chances are that googling for crybaby would lead to the page on Cricinfo.
A good example of a precedent would be googling for “failure” or “miserable failure” and finding Bush’s page as the top result, or googling for “more evil than Satan himself” and the top result being the Microsoft homepage.
I’m not giving a jingoistic speech to induce people to do this, but heck, it doesn’t take too much to do, most bloggers have ranted on the unfairness already, and all they’ll have to do is edit a reference to Symonds with the word Crybaby and link that word to the Cricinfo page. And more people will definitely blog about the ongoing series in the near future; all they’ll have to do is have one reference to the page.
It isn’t totally unethical; Google doesn’t condemn googlebombing as such – Marissa Mayer, Google Director of Consumer Web Products says on the official Google blog:
“We don’t condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we’re also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.”
I’m not wanting to claim any fame as the principal instigator of all this, and frankly, while I think it’s fun to do, I’m not yet sure of my moral position on this. If in case people take up this idea of their own volition, if enough people think of it as a good-enough idea to combat the biased Australian media, or are convinced that this is the pinnacle of Indian self-expression, and the ultimate Indian attack, the advantage of our long-criticized high population.. <insert any other justification you might find>, it’ll be something that’ll go down the pages of history…. maybe in small print, but still will. It would be something people would take notice of. Definitely more than just an enormous number of blogposts. And in my opinion, this might just unite and bond the Indian blogosphere.
Having said that, if at all enough people say they would take it up, this can be a good place to start for discussing and finalizing a page and a keyword. My suggestion has been Crybaby and a link to the Cricinfo profile of Andrew Symonds: http://content-www.cricinfo.com/australia/content/player/7702.html
If we do decide to do this, we might as well do it well, and to do that we need to be united in our efforts. And we need to work fast; the euphoria about the series will soon flag unless some controversy erupts in the following two Tests, and we soon won’t have the justification that this would boost the morale of our Men In Blue by showing them the Indian blogging community is with them on this.
If you think this is unethical, do comment here with your reasons. If you think this is a great idea, do comment here with your reasons. I simply think of this as an idea, with nothing inherently good or bad about it.
Comment here with your suggestions on keyword. Let it not be anything racist, but just mildly demeaning – a googlebomb merely creates an unsettling flutter, and the last thing we (and our Men in Blue) want is to be labelled a racist nation. The only one I can think of is “crybaby”. I think my suggestion for page to be linked is fine…. if you have any views on that, do comment.
Oh, and if and when it’s finally decided to go ahead with this idea, please make the keyword integrate with your post… like it’s part of a sentence, like it naturally has its place there – for example “The Men in Blue are too cool to be fazed by cheats and a simpering crybaby“. Google gives it more value that way.