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Bollywood Actors and #BLM

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These are some exhibits of the brave Bollywood actors standing up for the rights of Black people in the United States against police brutality; while simultaneously promoting fairness products to remove the deeply objectionable “dark skin.” If that is not telling of the hypocrisy in their stance, I do not know what is.

While an argument can be made that their paid endorsement for a beauty product cannot completely and irrevocable negate their sentiments for the systemic oppression faced by Blacks in America, their ‘brave’ statements must be taken in the context of three issues:

1. Their silence on the Palghar lynchings

2. False equivalence of Blacks and Muslims

3. Bollywood’s consistently terrible record on the portrayal of dark-skinned people

The Palghar lynchings shocked Hindus everywhere, as a dark incident of police apathy directly contributing into an angry mob lynching two innocent Sadhus. The Bollywood elite turned a blind eye and went so far as to dismiss those angered as ‘bhakts’ and ‘trolls’, whose opinions clearly have no value at all, and are in fact, perpetrators of ‘hate speech’ themselves. The mob lynching incidents against Muslims show a clear pattern of communal flare-ups, combined with distrust in the criminal justice system, mob vigilanteism and lack of police presence in rural India. In fact, these lynchings would far be mitigated with stronger police presence. However, the stronger police presence is the core issue that is being fought against under #BLM. If anything, the Palghar lynching has more in common with the murder of George Floyd, which they were mum about.

The false equivalence being drawn between Muslims and Blacks is more apparent than ever, when we examine the history of the community in India. Muslims have always been and have always seen themselves as the ruling or upper class. They entered India, not as slaves, but as invaders and plunderers. The invaders that took advantage of local enmity and plundered, killed and trafficked away women from India to the Middle East have more in Common with the European Colonizers who exploited tribal tensions to bolster slave trade of Africans, than with the exploited African people. The consistent plunder of India by many waves of invaders and their modern-day glorification by ‘unbiased historians’ is the documented but undiscussed fact of Indian intelligentsia. I will not deny the bigotry sometimes faced by Muslims in India, however, the bigotry often goes both ways and cannot be equated in any way with the systemic incarceration of black people in the Criminal justice system in the United States.

Finally, the third point is on the portrayal of dark skinned individuals in Bollywood, across the board, as lower-class, illiterate, simple-minded, filthy and as people accustomed to squalor is a shameful reality. An argument can be made that lower-class and rural Indians are more likely to be dark-skinned due to the grueling physical labour they perform day in and day out, forgoing many pleasures and their education, to put food in our privileged platters, is an excuse to portray them as such; and to refrain from ever showing their hard conditions and their reality would amount to erasure: the real argument is that dark-skinned people have also been shown often in a disrespectful, patronizing and bad light, and often drawing the implication that correlation is causation.

The fact that Bollywood is patently racist towards darker complexions and has shown few signs of improving only in recent years, combined with the silence of these Bollywood actors on the issues plaguing their industry and its portrayal of backward classes, clearly shows how their support for the #BLM is devoid of substance and any grounding in reality. It is empty virtue signaling and nothing else, designed to gain brownie points from their like-minded elite counterparts, and instead of encouraging these individuals, the Western Media should rightly chastise them for riding on the coattails of the #BLM Movement for a PR boost. We Indians cannot allow them to to profit off of the pain and insecurities of dark people in their own country, while allowing them to selectively outrage and lecture to us about Blacks Lives Matter in the same breath.

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