Redefining Racial Discrimination - Understanding Everyday Racism

You might have seen a lot of articles, videos and perspectives on racism and racial discrimination. All those are one side and my article, Redefining Racial Discrimination, is a complete new perspective! At the end of the article, let me know in the comments if this was a different perspective, or you have already known this dimension of racism.

Close up photo of a sad man and a woman lying close to each other. Tears falling down their cheeks are black in colour.

We usually think of 'Black Lives Matter protests' or the 'American Slave Trade' when we reflect on racism. While discussing such issues worldwide is vital, it is unfortunate that people often forget to think of everyday discriminatory activities. It is because many of us are ignorant of what racism truly means. That's why redefining racial discrimination is the need of the hour. Racism can also happen beyond famous protests and historical practices. Racism is the antithesis of everything humanity stands for - equality, justice, peace, and progress and creates a society where people fail to trust and appreciate each other. It is something that has evolved from prejudice and hatred

Why talk about it? 

Photo of two women of different ethnicity looking away from each other with a sad face.

Racism has been a topic of discussion from time immemorial. Why should we talk about it now when the world is under the fatal grip of Coronavirus? Well, studies show that the pandemic has made the world more racist than before. Fear caused by the virus is leading to discrimination in many parts of the world. In the UK, people refuse to be treated by doctors or nurses of Asian ethnicity. Islamophobic sentiments have increased in the US. Blacks have faced discrimination and racism in Chinese cities. In Guangzhou, emigrants and ex-pats of black ethnicity are forced to self-quarantine despite any Covid symptoms. This condition has hastened Islamophobia in countries like India.

Though religious tensions between Hindu nationalists and Muslims are already present in India, these tensions have now become a Coronavirus issue. Hashtags like “#coronajihad” or “bio jihad” have circulated widely online besides hate commentaries. Social media has become a new platform for discriminatory activities. A recent comment by a senior advocate regarding the viral dance cover questioning the religious identities of students of Thrissur medical college has shocked the Indian netizens. Below is the viral video related to that incident where the Advocate of Kerala has commented.

 Video courtesy - India Times

Racism in India

The discriminatory attitude of racism in India roots back in the hierarchical caste system that divides Indians into Brahmins,  Kshatriyas,  Vaishyas, and Shudras.  The obsession for “white” skin tone in India persists. People craving  ‘fair’ skin are visible in matrimonial ads. There are different matrimonial sites for various religions and castes. When it comes to Indian films, most heroines are fair irrespective of the character they portray. Though the Indian film industry takes a realistic approach these days, most directors compromise on skin colour. Racial jokes and comments are still getting accepted in Indian movies. Even the advertisements of facial cream show that the 'color' matters. In addition, several atrocities and criminal activities still happen in India. One such shocking incident occurred In February of 2016 when an angry mob attacked a Tanzanian student in Bangalore.

Also on the brighter side, (do not mistake me for being racial to say brighter) these days, the Advertisements by corporate companies are being more inclusive including their brands. For example, the brand 'Fair & Lovely' has now changed their brand name to 'Glow & Lovely'

 To read more about The Unattainable Beauty Standards of the industry, please read our article - The Unattainable Beauty

What is your role in everyday racism? 

Have you ever come across racism in your life? If your answer is no, then think once more. This time, give yourself a broader perspective. Everyone has either produced or victimised racism at least once in their lifetime. So think carefully. Have you rejected a girl due to the colour of her skin? Remember treating some of your friends differently? Do you force people to use whitening creams? Are you hesitant to make friends with different religious backgrounds? Have you ever felt irritated because of your ethnic identity? Are you a pseudo-feminist? Take your time and try to answer some of this long array of questions.

Photo of a fair skinned lady turning away from an African American man. The lady is angry,sad and irritated while the man tries to call her from behind.

Today's reality

To get a clear picture of the extent of racism present in our day-to-day lives, I conducted a survey asking over 100 people about their personal experiences regarding the matter. The results were a bit surprising. I have included some of the findings in this article for you to understand the issue better. 

Firstly I asked if they found racism acceptable. Out of 121 people who responded, 95.9% believe that racial treatment is unacceptable. Surprisingly 1.7% still find racial prejudice normal and tolerable. Again 1.7% have chosen a middle stand by responding ‘maybe’. The rest are clueless about this issue.

Then I asked them if anybody had treated them differently or made fun of their caste, nationality, religion, etc. The responses were shocking. Out of 121 responses,  35.5% have revealed that they have been victims of racism. Only 47.1% can confidently say that they have never come across racial discrimination. It is an astonishingly small number in a society that constantly advocates for racial justice. 11.6% have marked ‘maybe’ as they are not sure about it. The rest find it hard to recollect such experiences.

I got the most unexpected responses when  I asked if they would marry a dark-skinned person. Only 46.1% said a direct yes. 37.4% opted ‘maybe’ as they are not sure. 12.2% said they are ready to marry a dark-skinned person only if they belong to the same caste or community. This shows how caste and race still divide us.

4.3% have openly agreed that they are not ready to marry a dark-skinned person. This data shows that though people generally disagree with the racist ideology, they quickly alter their perspectives when it comes to them. This adds up, to another reason why racism still prevails despite all the campaigns, discussions, and protests to eradicate racial discrimination.

The last question asked the participants to share their personal experiences where a particular comment, joke, or act hurt them or made them angry or irritated. Given below are some of the selected responses.

My mother is fair, and my father is dark-skinned. My friends and relatives always say that I am my dad's daughter and not my mom's. That equally hurt my mother and me. They might have said it casually, but it has wounded me deep inside and still haunts me.

I belong to the Hindu Nair community. During my college days, my friends would often project my caste name for fun. They always interrupt me when I express my opinion saying, 'You are a Nair girl, so you are in a safe zone.' It might not be harassment, but somewhere I felt that this upper caste is also a burden.

Let us unite for a Better World

The photo shows people stacking their hands together. To eradicate racism, everyone should take it as their responsibility and connect with other ethnic groups while voicing against all forms of discriminatory acts. The sheer understanding that racism can be discussed beyond social media and accepting its presence in our daily lives can lead to several positive changes. You might be a racist even without your knowledge. So before you crack a racist joke or judge someone, think twice. Let us be more compassionate and open towards diversity. Do you know the benefit of having diversity? If not, do read our article - Workforce diversity and how it helps you become a Successful...

 ~Yours Priyanka Joy

Note: I personally conducted the Survey and all the figures mentioned here are true to my knowledge.

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Post a Comment


  1. This is soo good priyanka 😇

  2. Well Written Priyanka.This is just a starting point of one of the most sensitive topic.. Waiting to see more like this.

  3. Very interesting article. Many people of color belong to a race and/or ethnic group that inherently perpetuates a hierarchy based on skin tone. This was not our design.

    Where education has failed to address history that includes all of us, parents need to fill in the blanks . My mother did, and I did the same for my children

    I hoped to read more about racism and its role in discrimination. The article did not effectively address discrimination.


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