Equality- The Myth
Since the mid life crisis have had ample to think about life in general, so took a stab writing the book review for “Why We Kneel How We Rise — Book” by Michael Holding. A short summary on the reason for picking this book up and completing on the Independence day:
- Over the last 4 months, I have often complained to friends and family that these days have gone through a period of pain and the world has been unfair to me. The only way to subside this pain was to read through other tales of pain through human history. This book talks about Racism/Inequality people have been facing through their early life and also as we speak.
- A few days back, I shared a tweet about the author to amplify the sufferings borne by people of colour. A batch-mate of mine tweeted about a cricketing legend’s view being ignorant about his origins , and my old-self thought of going back and correcting him. But it wasn’t worth the likes/retweets on a platform where 70% of the content is targeted more for numbers and less for the human soul.
Also, Before talking about the book and my personal take on racism, a short note on my privileges/struggles of being born in an average middle class family in one of the poorest states of the country:
- I am a male in a society which calls itself advanced in the 21st century and still doesn’t have equal opportunities for women in work-place. Have often overheard conversations (even from my parents) where a baby-boy is still sub-consciously awaited while celebrating the birth of a girl.
- I was born as a Rajput (Kshatriya class) which is considered the upper class by Indian society just because we fought some fancy wars in the past. I was so appalled by this classification that I don’t use the family surname “Singh” and stick with just “Raj ‘’ for anonymity and simplicity. There have been times when I have dated someone outside my caste system and when I brought this topic in front of my parents, the caste question always popped up, no matter how independent and advanced as a family we called ourselves.
Michael Holding, during a rain-break last year, accidentally had one of the most heartfelt takes on the subject of #BlackLivesMatter, which later became a social media sensation in-terms of likes, comments, retweets. Very few, including me, understood Holding’s feeling, a black person who throughout his life had faced racial biases which have become the norm of the society we live in. A year later as I skimmed across the 281 page take on history, society and injustices which every lower section of the society is subjected to.Through the book, Holding, using examples from sports, wars, history, literature has highlighted two aspects of our societies: Dehumanisation and Brainwash.
The brainwashing begins right away with our parents who, throughout our up-bringing, have always had a protective approach, shielding us from hurt during early life . We are always diverted towards the good parts of societies we live in and leave the not so good parts to be discovered by us as we grow up. This means that we don’t have parental guidance to navigate through failures. The brainwash continues in the books we read — books in history, literature. The facts which we come across in most of these books carry the biases of the authors and are promoted through the curriculum of the country we live in. The book carries a lot of achievements in history for which black people haven’t been given credit and hence it subconsciously builds the White Supremacy as the de-facto normal in civilizations. To start with the colour of Jesus as white and Judas as black in all versions of the Bible.
Dehumanisation under the pretext of privileges we enjoy in our day to day life and are made accustomed to as righteous, again, both by our parents and the society we live in. For example: child labor in the form of domestic help is normal. Our attitude towards our domestic helps/drivers/guards, who are just doing their “job” is drawn out of privilege. The same dehumanisation, in extreme form, is highlighted in the book. Some of the below examples have been passed down generations since ages as accepted and very legitimate.
These fascinated my intellect and helped ease my pain.
- The South African cricket team was banned by the ICC from 1970’s to 1991. However some of the Games’ greats still toured the country and were paid to appease the upper race. None of the media covered these tours as they were status quo.
- Before Columbus discovered the West Indies Island in 1498, it had already experienced a civilisation with riches like gold. There had been explorers before this and Columbus’ expedition was just the start of slavery from Spain.
- Marcus Rashford, a 22 year old footballer, started a campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic for feeding the poor and under-privileged kids. He is subjected to hate on Social Media and Print Media in extreme magnitude.
The book has almost 20 more such examples of celebrities in people of Black colour who are subjected to biases in their everyday life. Imagine if they are subjected to that, what a normal black/woman/minority/mentally-disabled person has to go through his/her life and the subsequent struggle. And the fault doesn’t lie with one person/organisation/family, it lies as a collective responsibility of each of us, as we bring-up our children/families and teach them both good and bad so that they can be better citizens . And for every change we expect from our leaders/politicians/organisations, go back, pause and think about the way you have used/misused the privilege which you have carried from your birth. And to understand privilege it’s always good to go back and research amongst books more than social/print media.