YouTube vlogger Dhruv Rathee shared a video covering the USA protests in which he attempts to break down the concept of racism in simpler terms. Sadly for him, the simplicity renders the complexity of institutionalised racism absolutely null and void. And in putting forward an intensely upper-caste, upper-class male perspective, he contradicts his own understanding of racism in turn.
Comparing Racism in the US and in India
For the first part of the video, the Youtuber tries to explain how racism works in the American police force. He then moves on to compare racism in America to the racist practices prevalent in India. Now mind it, this comparison is necessary, especially in the light of the recent controversies surrounding several Bollywood stars who did not bat an eye to post on the killing of George Floyd in America, all the while keeping mum on how hundreds of migrant workers were dying in their own nation. But Rathee’s comparison comes seeped in the mainland Indian point of view.
Naming a Movement
Next comes Rathee’s most controversial claim: that he would prefer a more “balanced” name to movements like BLM and Feminism. He gives the example of feminism, which he says favours women even while fighting for gender equality. And all of this he does cleverly by taking a third person stance, constantly insinuating that it is not his perspective. But anybody watching the video and not knowing better, is clearly fooling themselves.
Racism and sexism are systems that stand on the shoulders of centuries of oppression . Indicating that the fight against each needs to take into account the privileged oppressor’s rights and feelings is absurd to say the least. And insinuating that it is reverse racism/reverse sexism to not do so, is even more ridiculous. Rathee does mention the history of racial injustice in America in the start. But in saying that BLM, or even Feminism for that matter, prejudices the ones it out leaves out from its name, he manages to erase the weight of centuries of violent, systemic oppression that puts marginalized communities at a disadvantageous position in comparison to their privileged counterparts.
Can There Be A Right way to Protest?
Near the end, Rathee also condemns on the fights and fires that broke out in the recent protests. He says that people should not have turned violent because that delegitimised the movement itself. What he, and a large part of this privileged class essentially wants is that the marginalized should play by the rules of the society. Even if that society has taken everything from them. Even if it now wants to take away their lives as well. With a condescending smile Rathee utters how looting and burning Target is not the right way to protest. What he forgets is that there can not be a right way to protest.
Trevor Noah perhaps explains it the best: “Society is divided into the have and have-nots. People who have, say to the have nots- this is not the right way to handle things. When Colin Kaepernick kneels, they say this is not the right way to protest. The time when Martin Luther King had children as part of his protest, people said having children at the protest is not the right way to do things. When people marched through the streets in South Africa during Apartheid, they said this is not the right way to do things. There is never a right way to protest because that’s what protest is. It cannot be considered “right” by the system that it’s protesting."
Noah continues to explain that "The same way you might have experienced visceral disdain and unease in seeing the Target being looted, try to imagine how it must feel for Black Americans when they watch themselves being looted every single day. Because that is fundamentally what’s happening in America.”
Photo Credit: Twitter
Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV