Society and Culture

Attacks on African students exposes our denial and double standards on racism

“Criminal, not racial”, they say. But how clear is the same ‘race’ and racism when Indian-origin students suffer unprovoked attacks in majority white countries.
Mar 31, 2017
That Indians don’t know what racism and hate crime means is far from the case. Most recently, since the gunning down of an innocent Indian engineer, 32-year old Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in an Austin bar in a hate crime, Indians at home have been jolted anew to the dangers of ignorant racism in the United States. The confusion of turbaned Sikh Americans with radical Islamic terrorists, which still leads to vicious hate crimes against a wholly different, peaceful community, is also well documented. Further, between 2009 and 2013, a number of hate attacks took place on Indian students enrolled in Australian universities. Just last weekend an Indian-origin cab driver was attacked in Hobart, Australia by a group of teenagers who yelled racial slurs at him. The list of Indians or Indian-origin persons victimised by racism in the West is long. However, we would be hard pressed to call all that racist, unless we also fully acknowledge that similar insults are more frequently hurled at and attacks executed on innocent foreigners who legally arrive at our own soil. We are not just victims, we are perpetrators too and the recent incidents of violence against African students in Greater Noida, coupled with the mind-boggling charges of cannibalism and drug peddling, puts that in sharp focus.
The gunman who shot at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani thought that they were Arabs — a case of mistaken identity with much emphasis laid on it by the local media narratives. The hater-murderer ignorantly inferred that all brown skinned men were “Arabs” and in his mind all Arabs were bad Arabs. But such ‘mistaken identity’ cases in case of black skin are more than common in India. In January 2016, a Tanzanian woman in Bengaluru was manhandled, her T-shirt torn off and her car set ablaze by a mob angry about a Sudanese man who had run over a woman earlier that day with his car. The traumatised Tanzanian victim of the mob didn’t even have an idea about the Sudanese man. The only similarly was that they happened to be both black. In 2014, Somnath Bharti, Delhi’s erstwhile law minister led an indiscriminate police raid against “prostitution” on the residents of Khirki Extension in South Delhi, home to a sizeable number of Delhi’s Africans — citizens of Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo. The African women were humiliated and made to urinate publicly for drug tests while Bharti was found on video, urging the police to arrest them.
Read more at:
 Indian Express, March 30, 2017

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