What next, ‘Ramen against Racism’?, is what I thought when I came across the call to ‘show support for the Indian community and signal that we will not turn a blind eye to violence in our city.’
Does the family of the Indian who got murdered in what is alleged to be racially-motivated attack get a share in the profits? The curry's going to leave a bad taste in my mouth if the death of one is seeing profits for another.
“How cool would it be if Melbourne displayed a show of force by all going out and eating Indian food on a certain night, to embrace and show solidarity with our local Indian community?
Let’s do it!”
...goes the final paragraph in the VAV campaign site.
Well, I wouldn’t use the word ‘cool’ in the context of a sweltering curry, and especially a Vindaloo for that matter.
But, come on mates, everyone going out for an ‘Indian’, as opposed to kicking in the head of one, does not signal support as it can easily be turned on its head and come across as ‘we accept the Indians so long as they keep to their traditional roles and dishes.’
We have to take a look at the degree to which cross-culturalism does not stop at appreciating another’s culture or indulging in it ‘for a gastronomic change’, but the extent to which there is mutual adoption. For instance, an Indian ‘chippy’ (fish and chips) or a ‘white’ Kebab joint. The difference between tolerance and appreciation is most distinguishable in our acceptance of another when they do what is traditionally the preoccupation of another. Personally, I always thought that Chinese dishes would do better with a touch of Indian spices just as spring onions go well with the luncheon meat curry I cook up once in a while.
If one was to think about it, one might wonder if the Indian graduate student, Nitin Garg, who got murdered got done in because he had stepped out of his traditional space, be it India, or other traditional roles. How much is being done to undo traditional stereotypes via the media, politics, social arena, self and other perceptions, and so on an so forth. If we focus on these arenas, we could quite dispense with such initiatives.
And I'm not just talking about the Indians here. How much are existing perceptions of the Aboriginals of australia, and oversights that leaves many languishing in poverty and the stupor that afflicts the downtrodden globally, responsible for founding the basis upon which an Indian was to later suffer an untimely demise? Personally, in my 8 days in Cairns, I encountered 5 instances of racism, whilst I encountered only 1 in 5 years in England. And I couldn't help noticing that all the reception staff and management in the hotel i stayed were 'white' whilst all those cleaning the rooms were Aboriginal. And having intentionally strayed from the well-beaten path of tourists, I encountered a couple of hundred Aboriginals sitting in some relatively isolated place, quite a few in tattered clothing. I think Australia has a long way to go when it comes to doing something about the racism there.
Don't tell me you're doing a lot. Tell me when you've done enough. The latter is a check on the claim of the former. All activists need to remind themselves of that.
I sometimes think that if we demonstrated less against racism as and when it takes place, and demonstrated enthusiasm for appreciating another as much as we might our own, we wouldn’t need the former.