Following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, celebrities around the world have made it mandatory to voice support for ‘Black Lives Matter’. Countries with a bone to pick with America, like China for example are gloating over the chaos and mayhem in American cities. Indian actors and celebrities, quick to seize upon any virtuous cause immediately found an opening and went about denouncing racism in America and condemning anti-black racism, although I don’t recall any such outrage at color biases in Bollywood in the first place or in India for that matter. But unfortunately for some Bollywood stars like Priyanka Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan who’ve endorsed fairness creams in the past, they’re being called out for being hypocrites. ‘Have you forgotten your advert of the garnier skin whitening cream????’ asked someone on Twitter. Shah Rukh Khan has been reminded about for his endorsement for the fairness cream Fair And Handsome.
I am sure Indian actors would suggest the use of fairness cream as a weapon against racism. “If only more dark-skinned people used fairness creams…”
And while everyone piles on racist white America, it might be worth noting that the white percentage of the U.S. population has been dropping, from a little under 90% in 1950 to 60% in 2018. It will likely drop below 50% in another 25 years. On the other hand there are millions of Americans of Chinese, Arab and South Asian backgrounds many of whom harbour their own set of prejudices against people of color and those in their own ethnic communities who happen to be of a darker complexion. Somehow their color insulates them against the kind of scrutiny now reserved exclusively for whites in the US and Canada and their own racism and feelings about blacks and darker shade people go under the radar.
How are Africans treated in India for example? In one word, horribly. African students in India have testified to being called names, shunned by their classmates, often barred from entering retail establishments and even beaten up.
Just this week former West Indies captain Darren Sammy revealed that he was subjected to racial abuse in the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) dressing room when he played for the franchise in the 2013-14 editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He along with Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera were called Kalu when the pair played for SRH.
Many South Asians, even the darker-skinned ones see blacks and even Indigenous people as lesser beings, lazy and unworthy of respect.
The Chinese have not exactly shown much love or more importantly respect toward Africans living and working in their country. During the recent pandemic outbreak, it all came out in the open. Africans were thrown out of their homes, treated as suspected carriers of COVID-19. There was no outrage during the height of the pandemic when workers at a McDonald’s in Guangzhou held up a sign saying – in English – “black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant,” they appear to be completely unembarrassed about the whole thing.
In a forum dedicated to discussions about black people in Guangdong on Baidu Tieba—an online community focused on internet search results—many participants agreed that China was facing a “black invasion.” One commenter called on Chinese people not to let “thousands of years of Chinese blood become polluted.”
A while ago, an infamous Chinese TV ad for Qiaobi laundry detergent, featured an Asian woman stuffing a black man into a washing machine to turn him into a pale-skinned Asian man. Unlike companies in the west which have been forced to take down such offending ads and issue apologies, in China, no such apologies are offered or expected.
There is little love for black people in the Middle-East and the portrayal of black people in Arab cinema reflects the widespread anti-black sentiments and racism that exists across Arabic-speaking countries. On the screen, black people are cast into subordinate roles, reduced to servants, housemaids, prostitutes, clowns and doorkeepers working for rich families.
The point of these examples is to show that anti-black racism is a global issue and by focussing primarily on a minority of racist cops in America risks giving the millions of racists around the world a free pass. By painting racists as white, allows racists who happen to be brown or belong to other cultures to think of themselves as morally superior to whites who are the racist. Meanwhile, South Asians for example will continue discriminating against other darker South Asians and will not apologize for their preference of fair skin.
Meanwhile the sale of fairness creams is a multi-billion dollar business in India and hold your breath, Africa!
If people around the world excoriate America for its anti-black racism, they end up giving themselves a free pass to continue their own form of racism and biases against blacks and dark-complexioned people in general. If America is to be held up to a higher standard, it is time for people around the world to examine their own.