An Old Lady Made A Racist Remark About My Son And I Let Her Get Away With It

Dolly Kalantri Dolly Kalantri in Bakkar. Chai. Sutta on 7 April, 2017

I’m not sure if all this racism makes me want to cry or makes me furious. No, before you assume something, I have not directly experienced racism in a foreign land nor do I have an anecdote from the ghastly pages of someone else’s life to share. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know someone who had to endure a racist experience- my two month old son.

Although my son did not face any violence, what happened to him was despicable according to baby-world standards. I know a pretty old lady whom I used to consider quite sensible until she laid her eyes on my junior only to say, “Oh god, isn’t he quite dark in colour, unlike your other family members?”

I wanted to whack her on the head (at least). I was furious listening to the comment! How could someone pass such foolish comments, that too to such a small kid?! I couldn’t do much about it because she is elderly and my family “respects” her. That makes me even angrier because I hate feeling helpless. I hate forcing myself to be polite while standing up for my son. If I can’t speak up for him, then who will?

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But the incident made me think of certain things- on one hand, we have become so modern with broader perspectives in life, and on the other hand our skin colour still affects us so much. Let’s not lie to ourselves that is doesn’t affect us, because if that was the case, these horrible fairness creams wouldn’t have a market in India. They still have our weak pulse and our crippling insecurity to target at.

But I’ve been left to wonder- if a two-month old boy can get such comments, I can only imagine what these ladies can do to the girls with darker complexion! They probably don’t get a 60-day probation period before the verbal assault starts. A girl’s skin colour determines the rest of her life the minute she is born, isn’t it?

Why worry ourselves silly about grown Indian men being racially discriminated in foreign lands? What is even the point of standing up for their justice? What about the racism happening in our own country, to our own people, by our own people? When would we stop doing this?

I long for the day we can leave this frivolity behind, transcend gender and colour, and focus on something better. Into that heaven of freedom, for God’s sake, help our country awake.