By Anuj Basak
The world is in distress now. It is almost on the verge of doom. The bigger picture that now lies bare is definitely the global pandemic or, in other words, the dreaded term COVID-19!. People are tired from being house arrested for months. In the present everyday scenario, every happening is just frowned upon while we simply surf through the news channels from the comforts of our home. If on one hand, some complain about not being able to go back to the ‘old normal’, on the other hand, many others secretly wish for these days to not end.
But is this what everybody else is thinking? No. For most of us, this is just another episode similar to a highly politicized uprising which would get subdued in no time (ignorance, sigh!). My question is: Is it the pandemic, which has made the global population worried (nearly) about its existence, that has brought the idea of racism to the forefront? My contention here is that the global media coverage regarding the death tolls has just made viewers spend some time to flip through the channels and learn about the brutal murder of a forty-six year old African-American man in the hands of a Police Officer in Minneapolis. While this event made many speak against such racism, others chose to applaud the police officer for his deed. The whole incident found a lot of attention in the media and led to several protests and public outrage in many parts of the world. I am sure that there are plenty of such incidents which couldn’t find a front seat and therefore went unnoticed and unreported.
Now, let’s come to the question of whether racism is a disease bigger and deadlier than Corona. This question could be framed differently, as in: “Does racism cause more fatality than Corona?” or “Is racism more difficult to cure than Corona?” If one is spreading its tentacles now, the other has already been doing so for centuries. If I say “yes, racism is the bigger disease”, I would really not mean it. I would still be incessantly checking whether the vaccine for Corona is out there in the market or not. This brings me to the important aspect of ‘finding the cure’. If a vaccine for Corona is invented, it would be the biggest relief for humans.
But what is the difference between the two? There are many – if one is the disease of the body, the other is a disease of the mind; even if there is the possibility of a medical cure for one, there is no help at all for the other; if the victims of one get a ‘Get Well Soon’ wish, that of the other end up in a mortuary. If we take a look at history, it will be clear that racism has killed more people than Corona ever will. Keeping these facts aside, we must understand that this hatred towards the people of a particular skin color starts from the very day when a person (read girl) is told that they won’t get married because their skin color is too dark for someone to like. Recently, a meme has been circulating in social media which showed a pencil of light-wooden color, stating that it was what we were taught as ‘skin color’ in kindergarten. I found people commenting on that post saying that this was where all the problem started. So yeah, we are humans and we realize things late, almost after the storm has swept everything away.
While we can’t do much about curing this ‘disease of the mind’, all it takes to be a bit more humane about it is empathy. Why don’t we try to fit ourselves in their shoes and look at how the world treats them? It probably won’t take much time to find a cure for Corona, but it takes centuries to erase something that has been deep-rooted in the mind. I do hope that the question is now answered.
An undergraduate student of Sociology, Anuj is interested in the mental and psychological perils of the society, and wants to pursue Criminology for higher studies, some day. When not found snugged under his blanket, he is mostly practicing his Kathak recitals.