As incidents of racial abuse come to the fore each day, people across the city are finding new forums to voice their dissent and speak about their experiences.
On Wednesday, Northeastern students and teachers from Delhi University and African individuals who live in the city gathered to speak about the various forms of racism — overt as well as covert — they have faced in the city.
Thomas, who has been living in Delhi for the last three years, is a citizen of Ivory Coast. He came to Delhi to pursue higher education but his dream was cut short in 2012."I was returning from a party in Dwarka and asked an auto driver to take me home, which was a few sectors away. He asked for double the money it takes and we got into an argument. In an instant, he started calling me a ‘habshi’ and he had his friends started hitting me. I lost consciousness and was in a coma for two months. I sometimes feel that I am dead and that my life is over. I couldn’t complete my studies and I can’t go back home like this," he says as he points to the scar that runs across his head.
Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti’s ordering a raid on the houses of African residents in Khirki Extension and the violence against Northeasterners in the city have brought out the issue of racism yet again.
“What we need, foremost, is to accept that we are racist. We have to admit that some parts of the country are so by force and move forward with our discourse from there. As for xenophobic politics, every mainstream political party is responsible for it,” said writer and artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta.
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Speaking out against ‘milder’ forms of racism that many are forced to face every day, PhD student and poet Soibam Haripriya recounted an incident where she approached a leading publishing house.
“I had approached them regarding a possibility to get my anthology of poems published. After I showed her my work, she suggested that I write Mary Kom’s biography. I am primarily a poet and it is not just my northeastern identity that defines me. Even for seminars, I am invited only to speak on race and discrimination, never on poetry. What is not understood here is that we are as same and as different any other region,” she said.
Read: CM meets African envoys to ease tension