My nine year old daughter who started schooling in mainland India when she was five began to feel the heat of racism.
One day she came home from school convinced that she was Chinese! Seems her friends told her that she was Chinese! Young and innocent as the kids are I don’t think they meant it as an insult but simply pointing out that she looked different. She specifically mentioned that her eyes were Chinese when I asked what made her classmates call her Chinese. Having born and brought up in the city itself till this point she never realised that she was any different from the other kids. I could sense that she was beginning to feel isolated, it broke my heart to bits. On a lighter note we had a hard time convincing her back that she was Indian.
It dawned on me that this was the beginning of her brush with racist remarks. That this was going to be part and parcel of her life having come from the Northeast and growing up in mainland India. At this point my motherly instincts kicked in. I had to come up with a coping mechanism for my kids to survive racism realising that it could be detrimental to them at so many levels.
Also read: Iwui Story
Then came the dilemma and retrospection of how I coped racism myself. Having lived almost half my life in the mainland cities I had my fair share of being called names of all sorts. Not proud of it but I had always given back the taste of their own medicine. Now the tough part was, ‘should I teach my kids to do the same?’ The answer is definitely NO.
Taking the issue deeper, the million dollar question was, “Why do I get offended when I am addressed by a different nationality?” Was it because I consider them inferior to who I am? The answer was still NO for me. I strongly believe and consider every race and nation equal in the eyes of the Law and God. This made me realise I felt offended mostly because I was on a defensive mode for fear of being mistreated or insulted rather because I looked different.
Thankfully a point came in my life when I accepted that it is ok to be different. It became a cure for me from getting all worked up whenever I was called a Nepali or Chinese and the list goes on.
Having had the opportunity and privilege to make friends with beautiful and wonderful people who are Chinese and Nepali nationals also made me realise how abortive racism is. There will always be racists among us but they cannot deter us as long as we hold our ground of equality. I choose to bless them and pray they find cure for their ignorance.
Having said all these I have decided to quip my kids with these two values, we are all created equal in the eyes of God and the Law. And that it is ok to be different. We are all part of the amazing kaleidoscope of human race. I sincerely hope this is something gainful to both sides of the readers.