THE NEW GLOBAL WE.

Black or White

Posted in Big Thought, People by Harsha on December 17, 2007

I was watching a pre-Monday Night Football show and there were 2 white and 2 black commentators. I couldn’t help but wondering about the issues of race and racism. I am not saying that anyone on that show is a racist (black or white), but I could not help wondering about the dynamics of the situation. Both white commentators looked liked they were in their 50s, which means they were around when the civil rights movement was taking shape.

That is an era in the time of the US that I am very apprehensive of, because so many baby-boomers and seniors are still around, who lived then, who may or may not carry the vile resentment that existed in that era (publicly, openly and visibly). Unkind words were used openly. Resentment was openly displayed by both races.

How does it feel for the white commentator to have a black one sitting right next to him, head-to-head as an equal, when just a generation ago, the black person’s family probably went through a ton of stuff. These issues haven’t been resolved until this day and if Jena 6 is any indication, it still has not yet left the collective conscience of this society. So much for the world’s most advanced nation; you can’t even get past a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Perhaps more ridiculous is the fact that Indians are even more racist! There are 100s of ads that are shown each year in India that feature products that will make you lighter skinned. Girls on the marriage market (for arranged marriages) are routinely rejected by the boy’s parents because she is a “little dark”. A fair skinned person is automatically assumed to be smarter, better and more deserving. I am sure not many of us know this fact – it is an accepted part of the Indian psyche.

At work, my ethnic boss always places the disclaimer to interviewees that “Don’t think of this as a purely ethnic company, it is very American”. That has always stunned me because I never considered that to be an issue; apparently it is an issue for a person who created a company out of nothing and built it into a multi-million dollar venture in under 2 years (we’re 5 years old now). Apparently, race makes SUCH a big deal that it can even undermine immense wealth creation in this capitalistic economy.

I don’t think this issue will go away and maybe it should never go. Because this always keeps the conversation alive about being careful about the sensibilities of individuals. You will always be careful of how you’d speak with a black, white or brown person. Unless you’re blatantly racist, you’d be very concerned your words might offend someone. So maybe, in this “civilized world”, the best way to retain polite society, is to continue to speak, think and talk about race and racism. At least let us try to generate some positive out of a non-issue built on a baseless, shallow thing called ego.

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