More than 20 years ago, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” conducted a social experiment about the racial prejudice that audiences will never forget. In the “Oprah Show” audience members were separated into two distinct groups. The divis
ion wasn’t based on skin color, but eye color. As the audience lined up to enter the studio, the blue-eyed people were pulled out of line, told to put on a green collar and wait outside. The brown-eyed people were told to step to the front of the line. Once indoors, the brown-eyed group was then treated to coffee and donuts, while the blue-eyed group could only stand around and wait.
Feeling discriminated against continuously, the blue-eyed audience members stood to voice their frustrations. One woman shouted “Why you guys are yelling at us, calling us names, pushing us aside. You are rude!” The blue-eyed people were flabbergasted, but it wasn’t long before the brown-eyed people bought into the idea that they were superior. “People, I had a girlfriend in school who was blue-eyed. She was so stupid, she was always copying off of my papers,” said one brown-eyed man. Oprah revealed after some time that she was conducting a social experiment. She added “God created one race: the human race, we the human beings created discrimination and racism.”
The reason eye color was chosen because eye color and skin color are caused by the same chemical: melanin. Do you think there is any logic in judging people by the amount of a chemical in their skin? But unfortunately, with this race experiment it looked, it does. However, there is a silver lining here. This experiment was done on Americans and not Indians. And hence it proves that Americans and not we the great Indians are racists, isn’t it? How many of you believe that we Indians are not at all racist?
Two Swedish economists recently collaborated with World values survey to measure National Racial Tolerance. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. In only two of 80 surveyed countries, more than 40 percent of respondents said they would not want a neighbour of a different race. This included 43.5 percent of Indians and 51.4 percent of Jordanian.
But then we have many excuses that India is diverse with different languages, different governance and also people with different looks. It’s natural for people of one part to make fun of others. Its natural for us to stereotype fellow Indians based on random past experience of random far-off relative and say things like all South Indians are ^curd-rice eating Madrasis, all North Indians are having fetish for fair skin, all these Malayali Christians are tricksters, Marathi speakers are all dupes, it was the others who built Mumbai. I am not even counting the general hatred towards Government servants, the deification of IITians, looking for “US-returned” people only for marriage, or judging a person based on their ^father’s profession. In short, we discriminate against lots of things, and we do it very well.
Racism isn’t a new subject but it is not openly discussed. Sometimes, we are victims of racism, and sometimes we are the criminals of racism. It is not knowingly that we become racists, but, over the years so it has been bombarded on our little minds, day in and day out. So much that, unintentionally or out of no other option, we give in to this ‘racist dragon’. The unfortunate part is that responsible people in our country don’t take this matter seriously and they don’t have the plan to unite the country on social and cultural parameters.
I have to point out here that I don’t think we Indians are racist at our core, most of us are big hearted ones with full of love and care. Ignorance of mind or small mind is the root cause of racism everywhere, and so is with us. This pours into us from a very early age, from things you have heard from parents, relatives, and friends. But, with globalization many Indians now are far more aware of things. Awareness is seeping in, and we all need to our bit to bring the reality to people. So that we all treat every other person with respect no matter how differently he may talk, how differently he my look. The time has come to shun all kind of discriminations and racism. We Indians already have a big heart; now let’s make our mind also big and open 🙂
P.S. – Delivered this speech as my P9 (CC9) project at Toastmasters. This time, I thought to break my comfort zone and try out of my home club PSN Toastmasters club hence delivered this speech at Express2Lead Toastmasters club in SAP.