Racism exists and I’m proof of it.
Until I moved out of my little comfort zone called my home country, I didn’t exactly know what discrimination was. Coming from a middle-class girl born in Kerala it may sound unreal, but no, I didn’t face any of that stuff while living in India. Probably because I had a privileged life which most other girls didn’t while growing up. I was born in a family that didn’t see the need to treat me differently to my brother. I was raised by an army of women, so I think if anything, my brother was discriminated against.
I had equal opportunities at work and was given the same recognition and respect as my other male-female-diverse-in-caste-creed-religion counterparts. All that confidence made me demand an equal equation in my marriage, and well, I got lucky there too.
So being the strong, independent and confident woman that I was, I had never thought that I would write about feeling being discriminated (yes the difference in feeling and being is poles apart when it comes to racism).
Don’t deport us. Image source: sgtalk.com
Racism is a strong word, almost sinister in its implication. As I’m typing this, sitting in a cafe in beautiful New Zealand, I can’t help but look out of the corner of my eye to see if anyone is reading my words, almost with a funny feeling in my chest. But why am I feeling this way? Why am I scared to say that I’m being racially discriminated in this foreign country? When I prepared the first draft of this article, I carefully avoided the word racism, instead used discrimination. But let’s call a spade a spade, shall we!
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Just like most married women, I followed on the heels of a man to another country. An opportunity came banging on our door and it was too loud an offer to refuse. Besides, an international experience always looks good on your resume. So we packed our comfortable life in Bangalore into medium sized boxes and crossed over to another continent with no return ticket but a determination that we will be back home once this gig is over in a couple of years. That determination wavers occasionally like a candle in the wind on some days, but it’s not blown off completely. Mainly because, umm, of that sinister six letter word.
Do they? Image source: thedailyaccount.com
Because it matters if you are thousands of miles away from home (11,492 kms to be exact) and you feel like an outsider every second of the day (not the exotic foreigner kind but the outsider from a land that is stealing jobs from around the world #eyeroll). It matters when you see your Indian counterparts working twice as hard than everyone else to earn their keep, while the ones born in this land just need to show up at work. That you have to be louder than others to be heard enough to make them turn their head (literally and figuratively). That you don’t get the same “hello, how are you” as other fair skinned folks while walking into a meeting, while buying groceries or even while boarding a plane (hey, I paid for this too!)
Sure, it is better than getting shot at, you say? Agreed, I am not being chased down or killed for being, well, brown. But is it alright to make me feel lesser because of the colour of my skin and the accent of my words?
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There are exceptions for sure. Some people make that extra effort to be neighbourly, inclusive and make you feel welcome in their environment. Unfortunately, they remain an exception, not the rule.
After all this time, I have come to accept reality as it is. I am a minority. Even more, I am part of a minority that has embraced this and learnt to overlook it. Unlike me, some came here in search of a better life. Better opportunities, income, infrastructure and work/life balance. Some of them have found what they came for, and have made a home here and met some like-minded people. Some are still struggling and trying to stand on their feet. Some return home, facing failure at the hands of tightening migration rules.
As for me, I feel like someone struggling to find a place in this part of the world, trying to make sangria out of the funny fruit that life threw at her. But the fact that I’ve managed this far, is an achievement in itself.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Anjali Rajan
Cover photo credit: pinterest.com