india

People love to bask in negativity.

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Once again, as I read through the comments on articles reporting the recent racism towards Africans in Greater Noida, I am overcome by the intense impulse to punch someone.

“That they are not in Africa” – do they not realise that Africa is a continent with 54 countries? Or do they hold the belief that all Indians act just like Chinese pople and Chinese people act like Indonesians? Since when did continents of billions of people all have a rigid set of identity and personality?

For someone who has forsaken the path of religion, I was taken aback by the amount of faith most Africans I’ve met have. Their dedication and love for their god was astounding. Not to say that being religious means one is good, but this means that some of them don’t indulge in drugs or any form of substance, drink to a minimum, and are well-behaved.

I can’t lie though – I have met the Africans who smoke, drink, and do drugs on a daily basis, but what about the Africans who don’t? Why must we have this negativity bias when it comes to Africans?

My friends are well-mannered – they don’t drink (except for some in social situations), they hold the doors open, they are polite, they are generous. Oh, if I were to speak of the generosity of some Africans I’ve met, I’d never stop gushing. Some of them are selfless and giving. Yet no, people are automatically inclined to label approximately 1.2 billion people based on the 20, what, 30 people they’ve met?

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The ugly side of Incredible India

We all must agree that India to a large extent has a preference for lighter skin. Products claiming to lighten skin splash the billboards and play on TVs. Potential brides and grooms are advertised majorly as ‘fair’ and children are told not to play out in the sun too long in fear of getting dark. Some of my own Indian friends are terrified of the sun and its ‘tanning’ effect. Now I go could on about this but it’d be a whole other issue I rather speak about next time.

The reason I brought this up is because I think that this preference towards a certain skin colour is the cause of the unfounded negative attitudes that some (if not most) Indians have towards Africans.

On 27 March 2017, four innocent African bystanders were assaulted in daylight by a mob of “peaceful” protesters in Greater Noida. This mob was protesting against Africans.

What happened?

An Indian 12-grader had gone missing in the area, and the fingers were pointed at the Nigerians in the neighbourhood. People BARGED into their house without so much of a care for their privacy to search for the boy. Upon finding nothing, these ignorant people accused the African men of cannibalism. Yes, people, in THIS day and age!

The boy was found seemingly overdosed on drugs and he later passed away in the hospital. The parents still filed an FIR against these men, because the boy claimed to have been kidnapped by a “dark-skinned man”, and also because Indians cannot be dark-skinned, only Africans can be. They believed that these men were responsible behind the boy’s drug overdose. Claims were apparently made that the boy used to spend time with these men as well.

However, the accused had to be released because there were no evidence that it was any of their doing. There was NO link between the victim and these Nigerian men, except maybe that both of them lived in a racist neighbourhood.

People took to the streets demanding justice (wish justice could really dealt) and turned violent upon seeing four African men who were innocentThe Africans in India are also protesting against racism by the Indians towards them.

That’s what happened.

So now:

Let us say that these men were the true perpetrators behind this alleged murder. Why is it that this incident took a racist undertone and generalise the behaviour towards the WHOLE continent of Africa? Why is it that a bunch of Nigerian men, based on this assumption, were held representative of a continent with 53 other countries? Why is it that all Africans must be responsible for the act of some men? This is my issue with many things in this world. Why must I, an individual who is fit to make my own decisions, account for my countrymen, my race and my gender?

But more likely than that, these men were the true victims of a racial attack, and this incident (one of the many) has just been an open window to the mindsets of some (again, if not most) Indians.  This is, unfortunately, not the first act of prejudice and discrimination towards Africans in the country. Many African people have been assaulted in India – last year, there was the infamous case of the Tanzanian woman who was assaulted and STRIPPED (because they have to sexually oppress women, yes). She was forced to take the fall when a Sudanese man earlier that day had been involved in a fatal road accident. Then in 2014, three African men were mobbed in a metro station for allegedly harassing local women, the same year in which Delhi’s former law minister allegedly led a mob to illegally detain a group of African women who were accused of prostitution.

Why must we be so stuck upon the colours of our skins? Why must the colour of our skin dictate our behaviour and who we are as a person? When did a certain ethnic group become lesser because they were darker? When did a whole continent become lesser just because of their skin? My fair skin does not make me less capable of a crime next to a dark skin.

Curiosity is one thing, when you see a foreigner so unlike you (although the issue of boundaries must also be discussed). But it is another thing to assume his or her whole personality and make him or her a representative of a whole country/continent.

 

Yes, yes, fair skin is beautiful. But dark skin is no lesser. Beauty comes from within; beauty is who you are. A group must not be based on one’s actions.

 

Sources: Google, Hindustan Times, Times of India, and others

How much do I charge for a night?

I wrote this in the moment after the incident. Some statements are just personal expressions due to the frustration and confusion of the moment, but I choose not to edit them to retain its original feel.
I wear a white crop top, through which the shade of my bra can somewhat be seen, and a bodycon black skirt that hugs my hips. I apply a Wine Maybelline lipstick and do my eyebrows. It’s a good morning.
The day I spend in a mutual friend’s house – there are six African men and the lone girl, me. I sit there, a little distant because I am a mere acquaintance to all but one. It’s a small, cozy apartment we are in. The cleaner comes knocking, and enters to take out the trash. He tells one of the men in the kitchen, that I’m pretty and all that. I laugh when I’m told that. Well, I guess, thank you.
Then I happen to venture out the apartment door, wanting to explore and also escape the awkwardness I’m experiencing with strangers. I am just about to return inside when the cleaner comes outside. He greets me with a smile and asks me how I am in Hindi. I reply politely. He then proceeds to ask something I took a little while to register: “How much do you charge…” I’m blank. “… Per night?”
That question takes me by surprise. I am astounded by the audacity this man has to dare ask a young woman how much she charges these African men per night, and just through this simple question, I see several layers of complexities merging.
“I’m not a fucking prostitute!” I exclaim in English, when I finally register what he is saying. I am ashamed to say this, but I am unable to say anything beyond that, unable to confront him.
He, at that moment, asks me if I understand Hindi. I think I just looked at him in anger and shock. He says, “no? Okay, thank you. Bye bye.” He walks away.
Dumbfounded, I enter the room and tell them what happened. They’re also irked by the man’s actions. I want to cry, but I hold it in well. I am able to blink my tears away before they fall. It is all good until my friend asks me if I want Fanta or Sprite – my tears burst out.  Outside the apartment, he comforts me; the cleaner happens to be right downstairs. Upon confrontation, the cleaner tells me that he never said that, that he never asked that, that he was only asking if I knew Hindi. I want to spit on his face.
He grasps the rosary around his neck when he hears the accusation. And I scoff – you’re not a good person just because you have faith in a god. He tells me I am confused and that I misunderstood. I tell him to stop bullshitting. In the end, he offers me an apology that is not sincere and I walk in back to the room.
I feel ashamed and embarrassed, apart from the anger and hurt.
1) My clothes… Could they have sparked this incident? I remind myself that it is not my fault. Despite what some people might say, despite what the society might say, the length of my clothes do not determine my worth or my promiscuity.
2) I am a fair Asian woman, dressed very cutely, in a room with six dark-skinned African men. Most Indians here tend to have a negative view of Africans, and the traditionalist and conservative culture of India ensures that any such woman with several men must surely be a prostitute or engaging in some sort of sexual relations with them. I mean, of course, she must be! They can’t possibly be platonic friends. She must be fucking them all for money, or at least one of them.
The conclusion I came to today: I looked as cute as I felt, and no ignorant man can take that away from me. He is a fool guided by judgmental and inherently sexist views that only draw clear lines between men and women, unable to see them as just people, unable to see them beyond a romantic/sexual relation.
This incident only proves to me the ridiculousness of some people out there.
My point no. 2 may come off as a bit of a concrete statement, but I am well aware that the culture there may not always be like that. Not every Indian is like that, no, I could never say that, for someone who believes in individuality and for someone with a good number of beautiful Indian friends. But I do stand by the fact that a fair-skin-preference does exist in India and it manifests in untoward ways.
I was very upset and taken aback by this incident; it’s the first I’ve ever had that was of this extent. I experienced another one not so far after, however.