Racism is (Rash)ism
By Khushi Koul
If asked about that one acid capable of corroding the world, what will your answer be? It is INEQUALITY. The Secretary-General of United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has aptly called inequality a global plague which has bred and fed its own self and is all the more glaring in this pandemic. Discriminating against our fellow human beings who own this planet as much as we do on grounds of any parameter is inarguably inhuman, rather barbaric. We call ourselves the Gen-Z, but do we only use modern terminology and fail to showcase an evolved mindset? How can we push people to the edge where they become so dubious of their own selves, have inferiority complexes, try swimming through identity crises and sadly drown in desolation? All of this, knits a complete package, paving a path for deteriorating mental health. Why do these people receive such condemnation? Because they are of a particular gender? Or because they have a particular body type or colour? Or is it simply because they belong to a particular caste? Who decides that they defy the idolised faction? Who decides the ‘idol’ anyway? And how do we let that ‘who’ govern our minds and spin it around their way?
Speaking of racism in particular, it is entrenched deep into the crevices of society’s psyche. Dark skin is used as a derogatory term, an abuse. A lighter complexion is aligned with beauty and people with equally sublime dusky shades undertake the process of scrubbing their layers off, in an attempt to achieve the ‘set’ standard of beauty. It is not okay to change something about you until you’re willing to do so. If your body is the canvas, you have the sole right to paint it in the fashion you like, not how the society wants you to. The recent incident of police brutality against a black man in Minneapolis sparked protests, fuelled activism all over the world and created an upheaval on the web. The killing of George Floyd has been a big reminder to us that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and justice has been sought after by standing tall against the wrong. However, without belittling the Black Lives Matter movement, the reservation here is how many lives will be sacrificed until we truly realise that ‘All Lives Matter’.
This unfortunate incident also stirred up attacks against skin-whitening products which have indefinitely propagated and promised whiter skin tone. Is it ‘fair’ on the part of the companies who manufacture and market these ‘fair’ness products? Resultant affirmative action includes discontinuation of the ‘Clean & Clear’ fairness products by Johnson & Johnson in India and renaming ‘Fair & Lovely’ to ‘Glow & Lovely’. It needs to be internalised that the cost of racism both financial and non-financial is greater than the revenue earned by these brands for the skin-lightening items they sell.
Whenever we think about the struggles of the black people and victory thereafter, one name that surely pops up in our minds is that of Nelson Mandela. 18th July, his birth anniversary, is commemorated as Nelson Mandela International Day every year. It is an attempt to celebrate his life and his undying rock-solid spirit. The UN officially declared this day as the Mandela Day in November 2009. It is not a gazetted holiday but rather a day to pay tribute to his legacy through community service. He devoted 67 years of his life relentlessly for promoting and upholding equality and dignity. The Mandela campaign urges us to begin with 67 minutes of touching people’s lives and making this place more humane. It implants the thought that each individual has the capacity to make a profound impact. This day witnesses educational, art exhibits, fundraising and volunteering activities in lieu of the theme “Take action, Inspire change”.
It is easy to break down and destroy.The heroes are those who make peace and build. ~Nelson Mandela
Today, let us remember his morality and his revolution, redefine the quest for a purpose and pledge to become the heroes he wanted us to be. Nelson Mandela is referred to as Madiba, his ‘Thembu clan name’, with love and regard. He quite literally made the ‘Long Walks To Freedom’, which is the title of his autobiography. He started off studying law, then joined the African National Congress and went on to establish the Youth League. Being an avant-garde political leader, he committed himself to overthrow the apartheid system of racial segregation and liberating African nationals from this vicious net. Madiba was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to topple the state as per the claims of the government. However, he was released in 1990 under immense international pressure and the fright of a racial civil war. 1994 was the year when South Africa got its first black president, Nelson Mandela, who was elected through a fully transparent democratic election. He is an icon who received more than 250 accolades including the Nobel Peace Prize for his exceptional efforts in peace-making. He was an exemplar of kindness too, a philanthropist.
In the face of Covid-19 which imperils everybody, it’s time to recognize the vitality of collectiveness and solidarity that Madiba advocated for. Let us all come together to intercept the route of this common threat, revitalise and contribute towards a healthier planet. The Secretary-General sends across an important message this day calling Nelson Mandela a prisoner of conscience who retained his ideals despite all the hindrances and iterated that there should be no such prisoner of conscience in any country in the contemporary world.