Are Dalits genetically Tamil
In a side street behind the posh Khan Market in Delhi, a reporter from the news portal scroll.in recently discovered a billboard for owners of four-legged friends. Dog owners can place search ads for a “wifey” or “hubby” there for their beloved four-legged friends.
Not only these names, but also the required properties resemble the personals for human marriage partners in the newspapers and Internet websites. In an advertisement, the Labrador presented himself as lovely, fair and handsome, and he was missing a Golden Labrador bitch, homely, blonde, thin and beautiful.
The choice of words shows how deep the prejudice is that fair skin (the Golden Retriever is the most popular breed in India) is generically associated with innate quality characteristics such as “beautiful” and “intelligent”.
Racially selective choice of partner
These tell-tale combinations of words in animals are only too understandable. With animals, especially dogs, as everywhere in the world, one may openly practice racial eugenics in the name of quality breeding. This also applies to the Dalits among the mutts. The word for a street dog - Paraia - comes from Tamil, where it denotes a caste of untouchables.
Racial selection is of course officially forbidden in humans, but it is still practiced. The quality features in the personal ads show with the necessary drasticness that the required "character traits" (compatibility of partners, family harmony, caste cohesion) are nothing more than attempts to genetically secure social classifications.
The skin color is central to the Hindu caste classification, for the nobility attribute as well as for the stigma. The lighter the skin, the higher the caste, with the corresponding social attributions: smarter, more beautiful, healthier. Dark skin color indicates physical dirty work under the scorching sun, while Brahmanic mental work is of course done in the cool shade under a temple arch.
Reality can contradict this category of thought - South Indian Brahmins can have deep brown skin, and North Indian Dalits light blue eyes. “All the worse for reality”, one would like to say with Hegel: The color in the brain is more important than the color in the eyes.
Businesses with fair skin
"Fair & Lovely" is the name of the face cream from Hindustan Unilever, which has earned billions with the Indian obsession with light skin. Who makes a career, who attracts the looks of men, who is the focus of every party? It is the fair-skinned young woman with the dazzling smile and the crowd around her; the dark beauty stands apart, alone in the shadow.
As primitive as such visual manipulation through advertising may be, it is clearly having success. "Brightness creams" have sales of half a billion dollars a year, with Fair & Lovely making the lion's share.
It took a long time for people - especially women - to revolt. This is all the more astonishing as the light / dark value scale is not just an instrument of the caste hierarchy. It is well known that the characteristics of light and dark-skinned correspond to Indian and Western, and therefore to all the mortgages of colonial oppression.
Here, too, it is the nomenclature of the animal names that reveals the hidden self-devaluation. The word that contrasts with pure-bred is “stray” - ownerless. In the Hindi colloquial language it is “desi”, ie: indigenous - as if there were only street dogs in India and no breeding breeds of their own.
Overlaid by caste beings
The same thing happens with the devaluation of the dark native skin color compared to the western type of people - and this perversely with the help of the Indian caste coloring. This may be one reason why it has taken so long for resistance to the devaluation of the dark skin type to build up in India.
Only in the last ten years has the Association of the Advertising Industry been forced to set up prohibition rules that achieve the one-sided exaggeration of light colors with stigmatization of dark ones. However, these are still rubber rules, because the advertising industry knows how to get the same message across subtly and subcutaneously.
With the onslaught of social media, the opposition is now articulating itself much more aggressively. A video clip by stand-up artist Ram Subramaniam recently spread at an epidemic rate. In it he accuses Unilever directly: “You need to get out, forever and for good. You made millions of dark-skinned stunningly beautiful women question their own beauty. You dented the collective confidence of this country. "
Color in the head, not on the skin
An organization called "Women of Worth" started an online campaign "Dark is Beautiful" in which women reveal their skin color. They tell how they had to deliberately overcome ingrained patterns that stem from their parents' ban on going into the sun, as this would make you “even darker”. Another campaign was called “Do away with the But” - an allusion to the slang label of a woman: “She’s beautiful but dark”.
These patterns would be easier to overcome if one's own caste mentality did not color one's gaze so deeply. Because prejudices about light and dark pigmentation are ultimately not the visual representation of the skin of the other person, but color the eyes of the beholder out of the brain. Or as the writer Toni Morrison put it: "Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined."
Nobody knows this as well as the black students in India. When I lived in Delhi, at vernissages I sometimes met a Ghanaian named John who worked for a UN organization. He was always alone, no one ever came up to him. When I asked him about it once, he told me that he had learned to live with it, as well as with the often whispered word kala - black - which accompanies every African like a shadow.
Riots against Africans
When a young Indian died of heart failure in the Delhi suburb of Noida recently, there were riots against Africans. The police arrested five Nigerians simply because they were fellow students of the deceased. Social media called for the refrigerators in the (segregated!) Student dormitories to be examined; it was a deliberately badly concealed code word that in plain language meant: Africans have cannibalistic instincts and hoard human flesh. Two students were brutally beaten in a shopping mall. The leaders belonged to the Hindu Yuva Vahini, the thugs of the new head of government in Uttar Pradesh.
In an unusually sharp statement, the 43 African ambassadors in Delhi condemned the riots as "xenophobic and racist". The government, however, intervened "not sufficiently effectively and visibly". They called for an independent investigation by the UN Human Rights Council.
Politics of looking away
The Modi government did not want to accept this, after all India is immensely proud of its "solidarity" with Africa. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj declared in parliament that this was a “criminal act”; she ignored the fact that the calls to the lynch justice system had triggered this act in the first place.
The peculiar blindness to deep-seated racism - and India is by no means alone in this - was demonstrated by BJP MP Tarun Vijay. India is not racist for that reason, he said on TV channel Al Jazeera, because it is a multiracial society. “We have black people among us, the people from South India. We have no problem with them. If we were racists, would we live with them? ”It was one of the moments when the racist fact was revealed in its denial.
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