For the past few days, my conversations in the morning are all around the happenings in America. My 12 year old is disturbed, curious and trying to make sense of what he is seeing on the news, hearing from his friends and pictures all around him.
We are raising him in a house where no question is a taboo. We have always answered any thing that he asks, as honestly as we can. But how do you explain deep rooted prejudices and racism to a young boy who has been brought up only knowing equality.
It saddens me to see the world around me. I have seen racism and discrimination growing up. In India, discrimination is rife everywhere – the divide between North Indians and South Indians, the name calling of people from North Eastern states, the exploitation of migrant workers, the preference for lighter skin, the voting based on caste and community – you look around in india and you will find it all around. In fact it is so embedded that it is a way of life – no one considers anything wrong with it.
After being raised in that environment, I was still shocked to see white privilege in action when I moved to Australia. While I was lucky to never be subjected to overt racism, the stereotyping still stunned me. When you hear hurtful comments, followed by “But I am not racist, you are just being soft”, you know there is an issue.
What is happening in America is protest against centuries of oppression and targeting a community. Change came but was forced and was never embedded. It did not reach all the echelons of the society. And when you have President of the country endorsing that being white gives you a right to do anything, the country is bound to be divided and burn.
A lot of discussion has been around – What can I do? I would say a lot and let us start at home. Raise your kids right. What I have told my son is that we are all different but we are all the same. Our differences makes us unique and interesting and our similarity makes us capable of loving each other.
Also, let us not sit on the fence. Let us call out, especially if we see oppression. Most times we walk away thinking not my business but guess what, this is our world, one which we will leave for our children. We have to make it our business to ensure we leave a fair and equitable world for them.
So, let’s start by taking steps which are in our control to ensure that the only thing we spread is love and kindness. If today doesn’t motivate us, let us do it for tomorrow and create a world our kids and grandkids will be proud to live in!