Friday, May 23, 2003
Once again I'm being asked to answer to issues that I did not primarily refer to.
1) As I indicated before, I would be happy to call them anything they're comfortable with. Just that I'm not so sure Indians who harmlessly refer to them as "blacks" are doing so with deliberate malevolence. Your point about "code switching" is valid.
2) No, I too do not believe in collective guilt, and the whole Af-Am community should not be shunned. I came to the US determined to mix with one and all. So yes, we Indians should not contribute to or perpetuate these false stereotypes mindlessly, especially us students who should be more observant and open-minded. However, given the general behaviour of some, I wouldn't blame an Indian girl for avoiding humiliation by staying away from ghettos. I wouldn't ask her to risk it, and would myself advise a female friend to be careful.
3) The social role of prejudice is connected with the above. Prejudice is neccesary in human society, and it is central to social groups. In fact, "prejudice" is only a special case of generalization. No generalization is "good", but it has a utility. Af-Ams can change their image if they decide to do so. Prejudice against them is a motivation for the more enlightened Af-Ams to force the rest of their flock to reform too.
4) I have acknowledged that Indians do have a more positive impression of "whites". These are common power equations; you "respect" the powerful. However, I also mentioned that I have seen Indians in India fawning on Af-Am tourists too, and even rich Bhutanese and Rwandan exchange students. It is natural curiosity and fascination. Let's not attribute every case of "awe" to one cause.
5) Once again, I do not want to be asked to comment on some ridiculous hypothetical situations like "my stupid bigotted friend said this. do you agree?" (implying that I'm coming from the same place he is). Since Kartic wanted to be critiqued, I made a point: Indians are not *particularly* hard on Af-ams, and Af-ams are partly responsible for their image.
6) Of course I've been at the receiving end of not just velvety jibes, but lost a lot of money last year to my overtly racist "white" landlady whom i didnt have the means to sue. But I have also been at the receiving end of jibes from Af-ams, calling me gippy (egyptian?), iranian and so on, supposedly curse-words in the post-9/11 world. These remarks don't bother me one bit. Only the b*itchy landlady did.
Overt prejudice is very much a part of the American landscape, much more so than in India. Some Indians who come here have to take a stand, and some get thrown off and imitate that attitude. I don't think Indians are particularly to blame, what with Jung and medieval history thrown in. If you want to discuss a fundamental issue, then discuss American society, or discuss socio-political equations.
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