Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shilpa Shetty, Racism and the Big Brother Celebrity Show

So much has been made of racism in the ‘Big Brother Celebrity’ show in UK in which Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty took part. The show in which participants Jade Goody and Danielle Boyd hurled nasty comments on her lead to widespread condemnation and public anger.

As if to prove that racism does not exist; the masses voted Shilpa Shetty to a thumping victory. Now does her victory mean that British people are not racist? I beg to disagree here. The fact is that racism has existed for centuries and will continue to exist. The only difference was that in this reality show it was open and brazen; which it ought not to have been. Racism is that which man has to learn to live with. You experience racism right from your childhood. Ultimately it is with one’s roots that one associates. Even among one’s own country men racism exists. For example two people from the same state in India (a country of 30 states) might relate better than from two people from different regions. Language is another thing that makes people racist. No wonder Shilpa Shetty was looked at as a person who doesn’t even know English. Two Texans in America might better understand each other than a Texan and a New Yorker. You identify yourself closest with some one who knows your roots and your mother tongue Even a white American is not very welcome in Britain. He might be looked at as racist. Similarly an Australian might be unwelcome in Britain and vice versa. It does not always have to do with the color of the skin.

In America and UK an Indian immigrant is generally not treated on par with a native. An Indian in a first world country like the USA, Canada or UK will always remain a third rate citizen. This is the sad truth that an Indian knows but will not always acknowledge. The economic standing of a nation can aggravate or alleviate racist feelings. Poverty ignites racist tendencies. Wealth and racist feelings often go hand in hand. If a subcontinent Asian in America wants to be perceived better there; the one thing that can (to some extent) cover racist feelings is his social standing – His Wealth. If he is rich he is looked at and treated better.

For Shilpa Shetty she couldn’t have got luckier - Publicity surrounding the racism row drove viewer figures to a record high for the show, with 7.8 million people tuning in. Further it has opened doors with a slew of new offers from which she can rake in a few millions. She must be thanking her stars for the racist attack that she experienced!

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