Actor Priyanka Chopra is being trolled for speaking up against the racism and violence that African-American community faces in the US, in light of George Floyd's custodial death. But why the outrage? Isn’t Black Lives Matter a crucial movement that needs support from all corners of the world? The backlash is not because Chopra spoke up, but because she chose not to during the CAA-NRC protests and Delhi riots which were rooted in the same cause- discrimination, and arose in her native country.
Is it much easier to raise an issue when you are removed from the situation and have little to lose?
"There is so much work to be done and it needs to start at an individual level on a global scale. We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and end this hate. End this race war here in the US, and around the world. Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin color," she wrote in her Instagram post.
Chopra is not the only celeb, Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan too have extended their support to Black Lives Matter. In fact many influencers and social media users, who steered away from making any kind of comments on the Delhi riots or CAA-NRC protests are writing their takes on why racism is archaic and how what happened to George Floyd and the resultant riots and police brutality, all caught on camera mind you, are “unjust”.
So what finally pushed these people to take a stand? Or is it simply a matter of convenience? Is it much easier to raise an issue when you are removed from the situation and have little to lose?
SOME QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK:
- Do we tend to opt for a cause to champion based on our convenience?
- Is it easier to endorse a cause when stakes are not that high, especially for celebrities?
- If a person is not comfortable in expressing their views, who is to be blamed?
- What do we tend to endorse mostly? "Speak up" or "Speak what we want to hear"?
I think this is the grudge that we hold with a lot of people, celebrities, and otherwise. Gun violence in the US, bushfires across Australia, mismanagement of coronavirus in China; a lot of people have opinions to offer on these issues. But when the trouble finds its way closer home we are met with radio silence.
I am not saying that Australian bush fires, the concern over climate change or gun violence, or racism, protests and terrorism in other corners of the world aren’t pressing issues. Or that we should simply not address them because we are not directly in the picture. However for celebs like Chopra, the stakes are always too high, as no matter what they say, they know that they will end up offending one person or the other.
Haven’t we seen how the right-wing trolled Deepika Padukone for simply standing besides JNU president Aishe Ghosh? The immense hatred her film received the next day, not for being up to the mark, but because Padukone decided to take a stand?
If Chopra or I or you are not comfortable in placing our views in front of a certain group, what is deterring us? Why is the response to any statement or view always backlash?
This applies for every one of us. Isn’t it easier to discuss China’s handling of Wuhan crisis than the migrant crisis that we are witnessing today, if you are surrounded by right-leaning family members? How many of us could speak at length and with much ease about our centrist views on the CAA-NRC protests to our friends who had clearly made up their mind on which side of the debate they were?
While people are called out for not taking a stand, are we kinder to them when they do open their mouth and out tumble the views that contrast our own? Would we have still clapped for these celebs for “taking a stand” if they took a stand for the opposite corner?
It is also worth an eye-roll that most of actors who are now critcising racism in the US have endorsed fairness or "skin lightening" creams which makes us question their basic understanding of discrimination on the basis of skin colour. Did they just handpick the George Floyd incident to appear woke? A cause that would earn them some brownie points with minimum possible accountability for their words?
Point as many fingers at celebrities as you want, but we cannot cut ourselves any slack here too. While we need to more vocal on issues that affect us on the local turf, one has to assess what keeps people from doing so? If Chopra or I or you are not comfortable in placing our views in front of a certain group, what is deterring us? Why is the response to any statement or view we don't approve of always backlash? Why not constructive conversation over a difference in opinion? What is it that we want to achieve by putting anyone down for their views?
Racism or any kind of discrimination must not be used as a prop by us to appear woke. And not just celebrities, many people across the globe need to understand that.
The views expressed are the author's own.