Ankita Konwar Racism: That people from the northeast have to face racism is undeniable. Anyone you know would tell you that they have been called names, made fun of and bullied for no reason at all. In short, they are made to feel like outsiders.
Recently, fitness enthusiast Ankita Konwar pointed out that the only time we consider them as Indian citizens is when they bring fame to the country. Of course, she got mixed responses for saying this on social media. However, she is not the first woman to call out this discrimination.
Ankita Konwar pointed out the hypocrisy among Indians as they celebrated Mirabai Chanu’s victory at the Olympics. When Chanu won a silver medal in weightlifting, K0nwar tweeted, “If you’re from Northeast India, you can become an Indian ONLY when you win a medal for the country. Otherwise we are known as “chinky” “Chinese”, “Nepali” or a new addition “corona”. India is not just infested with casteism but racism too. Speaking from my experience. #Hypocrites”
If you’re from Northeast India, you can become an Indian ONLY when you win a medal for the country.
Otherwise we are known as “chinky” “Chinese” “Nepali” or a new addition “corona”.
India is not just infested with casteism but racism too.
Speaking from my experience. #Hypocrites
— Ankita Konwar (@5Earthy) July 27, 2021
Here is a list of four women who called out racism against North East Indians before Ankita:
1. Lin Laishram
Model and actor Lin Laishram opened up to The Free Press Journal that she admired Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ work in the 2014 film Mary Kom but felt that a woman from Manipur could have been cast to represent them. She said that she believed in authenticity and inclusivity. Laishram also pointed out the irony that a non-North Eastern played the role of a North-Eastern achiever in the movie. In a recent interview, she revealed that if a biopic is ever made on Mirabai Chanu, it will be a shame if an actor from another ethnicity plays the role.
Sharing her personal experience, Laishram said to Hindustan Times that in 2020 a man called her “coronavirus” and kept repeating it till she left. This happened in the month of February last year so she was not aware of the situation. Only after some extensive research did she realise what he meant.
2. Sarita Devi
The 2006 Women’s Boxing World Champion Sarita Devi said in an interaction that she and almost every other athlete from Northeast India have faced prejudice in the early years of their career. “We face it because we look different and are from a remote area which isn’t familiar to most Indians,” she said. The boxer revealed horrifying details about being harassed on their way to the National Championships and being disrespected for having non-vegetarian food. One of their coaches would refer to them as “jungli.” Since their career was at stake, they couldn’t say anything.
3. Jwala Gutta
Badminton Player Jwala Gutta didn’t know that “Chinki” was a racist remark. It was only a decade ago that she realised what it connotes. She further revealed that once she started speaking out on social media, the online racist jibes at her grew stronger.
4. Ashalata Devi
Talking about experiencing racism, footballer Ashalata Devi said to a leading daily, “Do they have a problem with our faces?” Adding that even though they look a bit different, they are not “Chinese”. All the racism that happens around her makes her feel deflated. The footballer also narrated incidents when she had to explain where Manipur is on the map of India and answer questions like “What is the capital of Manipur?”