On 28th March 2017, Greater Noida near New Delhi witnessed one of the most atrocious acts of racial paranoia sparked by volatile behaviour of stereotyping. Men, armed with chairs and dustbins, lashed out at innocent Nigerian students who were out shopping at the Ansal Plaza mall. Despite knowing that they did not pose as an immediate threat, the violent mob viciously beat them and tried, desperately, to kill them as soon as possible.
What exactly instigated this riotous behaviour? What was so appallingly repellent about these Nigerian nationals that they had to exterminate them? According to the local news, a class 12 boy had died due to overdose. Overdose. That was it! Instead of waiting for the police to investigate the case and ascertain the cause behind the student’s demise, local residents of Greater Noida carried out a mass protest calling for the eviction of all Nigerian students from Greater Noida. They had unanimously decided to paint all black people with a single brush; that all residents were drug peddlers, all were cannibals, and most important of all, all of them had taken part in the killing of the Class 12 Indian student.
Racism is unfortunate and it will persist as long as ignorance runs parallel to it. However, India’s turtling modern education and it’s unwillingness to deal with blatant racism is surprising when one considers how enraged the country became over the treatment of Indian students in Australia, US treatment of India’s diplomat and recently, the killing of an Indian techie in US.
Even prominent comedians have unknowingly stepped away from addressing racism and ridiculing how ridiculous everything is. There are not many things that an Indian comedian can joke about and it is owing to his immediate environment, people’s perception and the government’s unwillingness to change it.
The Prime Minister of India has not even spared a word for this incident. A man known for prolonged oratorical skills could’ve hardly known what happens to few black people in India every now and then. There is mass hysteria over the killing of a white man, little discomfort at the racial profiling of an Indian national abroad, a reflective criticism of self when something happens to people from the northeast, but nothing, nothing when it comes to racial attack against black people.
Desperate and scared Nigerian nationals have started a ‘Black Lives Matter’ in India, a phenomenon which calls for serious consideration of India’s perception of black people.
Granted that there are Nigerian drug peddlers, but there are Indian drug peddlers too. Like Indian students studying abroad, there are Nigerian students studying in India too. If an Indian student overdoses on a drug sold by a Nigerian, why should it justify xenophobia and hatred? How do you even justify violence at this point? Why wouldn’t you talk about moderation and perception?