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Doesn't really matter if you are black or white or are we still ruled by the color of skin

BY: meghav | Category: Social Issues | Post Date: 2009-11-12

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Barack Obama, the first black president ruling a country whose three fourth of the population is white; Agbani Darego, the first black lady to be crowned miss world; blacks like Ralph J Bunche and Martin Luther king winning the Nobel peace prize decades ago… with facts and figure like these oft appearing in the newspapers and magazines, do we still have reason to believe that we are still divided, still ruled by our race and color?

Well, according to me, yes, infact the reasons are stronger than ever before.

Today with the world becoming a melting pot of various cultures, with the increasing interdependence of nations, the world has itself turned into a large society with racial and ethnic diversity like never before. The line that divides blacks and whites has become very thin. Over the years, it may have diminished but it has definitely not vanished. Racism has existed for centuries, slowly trickling down from generations to generations. Over the time it has metamorphosed, it is much more sophisticated now, but it is still there.

In the 18th century, the manifestation of racial divide was slavery. Apartheid was a policy widely practiced in Africa, even in America. Blacks were ill treated, tortured and a luxurious life was the prerogative of the whites. With slavery becoming a major political issue, the blacks were finally emancipated and slavery abolished, but that did not bring the ethnic divide to an end. A group of people who believed in suppression of the racial minority formed the Klu Klux Klan. Suppression continued, though in more subtle forms. And it continues till date, in forms that are hard to perceive, in the very mundane, everyday spheres of our lives. I will cite examples from our routine life to vindicate my point, but let us first try and establish how this divide started, what exactly caused discrimination.

The answers differ. Different people attribute racial discrimination to different factors. Some believe that there was no ‘cause' or agent that brought about this hideous practice, that the behavior of discrimination is not always learned or inherited; it is simply genetic in the initial stages. Genetics enable us to discriminate, to distinguish from the very childhood. Just like a child learns to distinguish a boy from a girl, it also perceives a difference in ‘whites' and ‘blacks'. And this ability to discriminate latter leads to racism. Even if deemed true, this theory doesn't explain how this natural ability of discriminating can lead to the horrid crimes, hatred and suppression that racism brought with it.
Another cause, the more logical one, is stereotyping. Many psychologists believe that somehow, some prejudices get inside the minds of people, which if not timely addressed, develops into dislike and eventually into hatred, which then serves as the reason of discrimination.

Earlier this hatred was expressed barbarously, through violence and public execution of the blacks. Today it's expressed in more covert forms through favoritism, prejudices and discrimination.

As centuries passed by, the manners reformed, but the basics did not.
Infact however paradoxical it sounds, the very examples that I gave in the beginning justify my point instead of debunking it. The explanation to this is simple. If it really didn't matter whether someone was black or white, it we lived in a world with no divide, then we would never have talked about it the way we do. Have you ever come across a heading that resembles these- Mr. XYZ becomes the first white man to become president, or to win a beauty pageant or win some great award for that matter. If the divide really didn't exist, it wouldn't have mattered whether a black person gained recognition or not, but apparently it does!!!

I would now prove my point through some more examples, more direct and clearer.

In USA, for instance, the blacks and whites still live parallel lives. And the divide is present even in educational institutions like schools and colleges. Most schools are either heavily black dominant or white dominant; the ideal 50-50 ratio just doesn't seem to exist. Apart from that, racial abuses and violence are being reported in various parts of the country at a rather alarming rate. According to George Frederickson, one of the most eminent historians of the United States, racism is difference plus power. He believes that current day discrimination persists throughout American life- in access to healthcare, educational services, employment opportunities, wage level, capital and what not.

A lot of suffering has been caused in the past and it's high time we did something about it. After discussing the present day racism in the world's oldest democracy, let us now discuss its effects and prevalence in the world's largest democracy.

Though racism has never been as hot an issue in India as it was in Africa and America, but it manifests itself in various forms still prevalent in our own country. An everyday newspaper will tell you how.

Even a fleeting glance of the classified section will give you an idea of what I am talking about. Most of the people want their prospective bride/groom to not only belong to some particular caste or religion but also (in a lot many cases) want them to be fair. The looks do matter and apparently one's skin color is a barometer of his or her good looks.

This is also evident by the sky rocketing sales of fairness creams and other cosmetic products that aim to ‘change your life' by changing your skin type. People buy these products to become white (or whiter), because ‘the whiter, the prettier' is the tune that majority of the people seem to be crooning today.
Racism is slowly taking the whole world in its custody. The recent attacks on Indian students in Australia have proved that it is not limited to one or two countries, but is now a global trouble. The attacks were unjust, wrong, criminal and definitely racial!

With two more Indian students being attacked in Australia hours after the prime minister assured the protection of all Indian in Australia, the issue needs some serious and quick action in order to avoid such instances from taking place in future.

This divide between blacks and whites is a curse on humanity. If we want to be justly called humans, we need to eradicate this bane as effectively and as quickly as possible. It not only hampers progress and growth but also challenges the very purpose of our existence, challenges the very entity of humanity. Acknowledging this divide is just the first step to tackle it.

Only laws and treaties won't help. The cause to this curse originated inside our minds, in form of prejudices and biases, so in order to address this problem, the solution also has to deal with changing the very thought process. We need to accept with all our heart this difference of color and blend it with our own. A true ‘melting point' needs to be constructed where the two colors compliment each other, just like the various colors do in a rainbow. And this will be possible only when we, the people, open up our minds, break the shackles of prejudices and become what we were meant to be- humans. Only then will the trickling stop, only then will the generation next be free from this scourge on humanity, only then will it not matter whether we are black or white.

Megha Chaturvedi

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Very well said
Yaar, you have written such a nice article that I had to read it twice. Very in-depth thoughts presented.
Sanju 2009-11-12

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