“Maybe it’s time to just scrap the word “racist.” Find something new. Like Racial Disorder Syndrome. And we could have different categories for sufferers of this syndrome: mild, medium, and acute.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
It’s a beautiful midsummer day, heading into the weekend. I am driving from one hometown to another in the scenic, green hills and dales of the rural south. The sun is shining bright, the day is simply perfect.
And then out of the blue, an ugly sight comes into my line of vision. It’s a huge, old pickup truck (nothing wrong with pickup trucks…) but behind it displayed rather proudly, swaying in the wind is a huge Confederate flag. Very, very ugly.
Ever since Charleston, I have seen these “proud” displays of the Confederate flags, usually on pickups, and one time displayed on the front of a vintage Corvette, rather like some exotic headgear. I am pretty sure all of the vehicle owners were Southern red necks because after all, they were all spotted in the South.
What pleasure do these guys get to shout out to the world around them – “Watch me! I’m a stupid, ignorant, hick” ?
Their lack of sensitivity and their blatant racism makes me so angry!
And then I got to thinking. Why am I so outraged at this display of the Confederate flag?
After all, I come from a country that is full of racists. I should be used to it. In India, racism exists in all forms. It is also much more blatant and overt, and even in the most liberal setting, it still exists.
There is racism along lines of caste, religion, creed, class, region (let’s not forget the whole North-South thing), and yes, color. The list goes on and on. Nobody can deny it.
[You may want to read this: India is racist and happy about it and India has Been Ranked As One Of The Most Racist Countries In The World, Here’s What Makes Us So ]
Here in my adopted country, I get so incensed when I see the mere display of a Confederate flag.
Yet, to be perfectly honest, I don’t see myself getting as emotional or aggrieved in India where racism is more accepted and endemic in society and culture. How come?
Now, just thinking about this, it shames and saddens me greatly that I appear to implicitly be accepting of it there. But I truly don’t have any good answers as to why I do. Time for some deep introspection…
“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind
most of our colors are amazingly the same.”
By Donald Lee Pardue (Flickr: Still Waving) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons