My view on racism!!

Warning!! – This post may have language or views that are not suitable to over sensitive and extreme politically correct people!!

rac·ist definition

a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

When I was leaving for US back in 1990, I heard a lot of advice from people about how I should adopt to life in US.  Some said – try to stay with Indian people (I guess strength), some said try to stay away from black people (I guess that is what they knew from stories and movies), don’t make the white people mad (that was funny one).  I arrived here without a clue about racism… in India there is mostly one race.  But the basic definition of racism is “discrimination” and “prejudice” – that I am very familiar with.

EVERYONE discriminates… in some shape or form… no denying it.  It is human behavior.  We discriminate based on race, caste, color, gender, sexual preference, weight, height, money and of course religion.  If you never made a joke or said something discriminating in any of those areas, you are a saint and I bow to you.  I have seen a lot of discrimination in caste, color and money growing up.  I even heard that who we are was based on our sins or good deeds in previous lives.

Fast forward 28 years… I now stand in a much different place.  I have seen my fair share of discrimination and still do now and then… I just chose to not be impacted by it any more.  Here are some funny (albeit not so funny when they happened) incidents.

  • When I was preparing for our software presentation in 1998 at a big company, one of the attendees came up to me and spoke loudly “so what are we going to see today?” – I guess talking loud and slowly really make a difference for people that don’t speak english well 🙂
  • In 1997, when I was looking to buy a new truck, I was at a gas station and asked a guy that pulled up in a new F-150, how much it cost… he looked at me and said “it is very expensive”… I guess I didn’t look like I can afford such a truck.
  • When I was browsing new shirts in a big department store in Scottsdale, a sales lady approached me and said “those shirts are not on clearance”… wow! that one stung.
  • and of course the classic one, when a flight attendant said “hey, are you sure this guy is in business class?” on a flight from Bombay to Zurich in 1997 right in front of me, I was speechless (read about it in my post My most memorable travel story!)

In many of these incidents, you become numb and usually can’t respond immediately.  Are they really discriminating? Racist? or just don’t have enough exposure to realize that stereotyping based on color or ethnicity is not right?

In early 90s I used to hang out with mostly Indian students, relatives and didn’t get exposed to much about other races in US.  When I got married in 1995 to a white girl, I heard many comments – married to get Visa, married to show off, married for money (really? :)) – but after that milestone my opinion about race changed significantly.  There are bigots and people that discriminate in every race… just because of those handful, everyone gets labeled as the same.  Is every white person a KKK member? or is every hispanic is here illegally? But you can’t escape the rhetoric that some people use in general.  Racism and discrimination haven’t started recently, they has been there forever and just recently it has been brought to forefront.  Now, you see people that hate discrimination so much they themselves discriminate against whole race and group of people.

Recently I heard a comment at a hotel bar from a young white girl that she hates rich people.  I asked her what is her definition of rich… and she said those people that drink fancy scotch, buy their kids expensive things and stay in nice places.  Her boyfriend also had sympathy for me that how hard life must be for me for being brown in this culture. So I had to talk to them about my life experiences and how being brown doesn’t bother me and also how all rich people are not bad… some work really hard to get there.  That is what prompted me to write this post.

When did you see a problem fixed “it self” if you yelled right in its face?  Calling people racists or showing that they are WRONG is not the way to fix it.  I had the privilege of reading a lot of posts from Sadhguru recently.  We will not be able to fix Terrorism, Racism and Bigotry in our life time!! But we can start making a difference.  The only way is to start making people realize what they are beliefs are not right and make them aware of life in general one at a time.  So take time to educate one person at a time and don’t waste time in calling people out and feeling good about yourself by doing so.

For me, there is only one race and that race is HUMAN RACE!