Saturday, July 11, 2015

The biased and bigoted self

The Confederate Flag came down in South Carolina.  But, it is a mere symbol.  A symbol that stood for various things to various people.  Reflecting on his own life, a Caucasian Southerner who has lived there all his life, writes:
Among people who see this rag of stars and bars as an odious reminder of our Southern delusion, this is a moment of hope.
But taking down the Confederate flag won’t change the landscape, of course, by more than a gesture. We need to look inside ourselves and see that the roots of this racial antipathy lie in all of us, and that it can rise to hatred in any of us. This is a hatred we promote without being aware of it, and share without admitting it, and we must learn to see that. 
In that piece, the author reminds us:
so many Southern whites wrapped themselves even more tightly in the myths of past glories and tattered traditions.
In the process, the reality of what slavery meant, the way it warped that old society, became obscured. Southerners could tell one another chapter and verse about Yankee armies, troop movements, the personalities of generals, the facts of battle. But the facts of slavery, the truth about our white brutality, about the system of terror that permeated the South for centuries, that sustained the idea of human property, became obscured, then romanticized, then lost.
Which is why sending the Confederate Flag to the museum is a mere first step.  There is a lot more that has to be done.  To think that a Barack Obama presidency means we live in a post-racial society is to be in complete denial of the racially charged and segregated lives that we continue to live.


I come from a land where power and privilege have been played out in atrocious ways for centuries.  Brahmin supremacy was/is as bad as--or even worse than--White supremacy.  I had hoped to think through and analyze the bigotry that Brahmins systematically practiced, and do so in an autoethnographic manner.  I started with this post from a while ago.  But, I chickened out; that topic is a world of landmines for me to walk.

I can only hope that I am doing my best to look at the world and the people in far less biased and bigoted ways than how my people did, and how I too did, in the past.  Unlearning the childhood indoctrination that happened when growing up in that stratified and segregated society of the old country has not been easy and has been a long struggle.  But, we shall overcome ... one day!


Ramesh said...

A second post on a matter (the flag lowering) which does not concern anybody outside your country.

But your theme , and your reference to the old country is all very true. There is little doubt that racism of varying magnitudes exist everywhere and in India it is alive and well in virtually every community. But it is going down in varying degrees everywhere in the world, albeit at too slow a pace.

Sriram Khé said...

The "flag" itself is a uniquely American issue, yes. But the underlying issues about how Blacks were/are treated is, sadly, an universal one. Even in India--for instance, from time to time, I read about Nigerian and other students in India being treated like they are less than human.
Like in this one too:

Anne in Salem said...

I do not understand how one person thinks he is better than another simply because of skin color or religion or any accident of birth, such as the wealth of the parents or location of the home. Every human has value and has gifts and talents and skills to share. None is more important than another.

If such prejudicial attitudes have existed for millennia, how will they ever change? Is there hope that some day we can all just get along?

Sriram Khé said...

"Is there hope that some day we can all just get along?"
Yes, in plenty. But, only if we take a long view of history. Looking back over a long time horizon, we will see that we have become way more peaceful and tolerant and respectful and ... More on this at:

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