If I had one wish, I would wish for racism, even in people’s hearts, to end

September 4, 2008 at 6:20 am Leave a comment

If I had one wish, I would wish for racism, even in people’s hearts, to end

– Maichyang (http://maichyang.wordpress.com)

I hate the stupid racist comments that people areound me make. I mean, we all have some ethnocentrism in all of us, but people should try to control it. Or at least hide it.

The terai is flooded, and a large proportion of the people who are left there are from the Madhesi community (and not people who migrated from the hills). M (a relative) can’t help but comment on how these people are ussually bad at managing crisis. The reason I can’t stand this is more than the fact that I hate racism. it’s the fact that whenever M has to complain about people who have to heat bathing water even in the summer, she says “Pahadias are like that. Madhesis can take a bath with cold water too.” She’s a Pahadia when she has to talk about Madhesis, and a Madhesi when she has to talk about Pahadias. There’s a Nepali saying- “taak pare Tiwari natra Gotame.” Basically, OPPORTUNIST.

Another thing I hate about the whole bunch of us (everyone around me, literally) see certain characteristics of a population as related to their genes and not the sameness of the environment they live in. Here, when people have nature versus nuirture debates, nature is bound to win- not just becasue there are more supporters of that side, but becasue people who believe in “nature” are so rigid in their beliefs that they don’t acknowledge our side of the arguement.

I try to give M examples to say that things aren’t what they seem; that culture and availablity of resources, and values have as much, or more- I beleive, to do with how people are than their genes. I mean body types and eyesight are genetically passed attributes, but keeping your kids half-dressed or not saving for the future has to do with what values people are taught more than with what genes they have.

M’s prejudices are not always seen in her behavior though. She’s kept Dalit people at home, and fed them at her dining table, and she treats my Newar friends like she treats my other friends. A Madhesi girl is one of her favourite people too. But if a Madhesi couple has three daughters and still tries for a son, it’s “what those people do.” When any other people do that, it’s just a “God! Why are these people like that…?”
If a Dalit girl runs away with a far cousin, it calls for a “Those people have that. It’s accepted in their traditions. No wonder it happens so often”. If a Brahmin/Chhetri girl does the same, they say “What did she do? Both her parents were so cultured…”

I don’t get it. I try to explain that the way I hate it when people connect being a Brahmin to being greedy, Madhesis and Dalits and Newars must hate it too, and that it is wrong for us to generalise. But they don’t get it. Sometimes I want to ship M, and people like her, to a place where they will be discriminated against. Maybe they should be denied a visa to the US simply because they’re Asian and they might bomb the WTC or because their name sounds “Hindu.” Then they’ll see. Racism hurts more than they think it does. And until people like M realise that, racism won’t end.


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Lessons from the flood Re-engineering water systems

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