Monday, March 12, 2007

Fear of a Brown Planet

As many of you know, my sister won an award for the Nashville young leader of the year by helping out underprivileged kids who were mostly minorities. Recently she has been working on an inclusion policy (racial friendliness) and fighting legislation to require English at the workplace. She relayed to me how much people in Nashville fear the fact the world is getting browner. In Nashville as well as America as a whole, Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population, other than it seems, Reality TV contestants. As a native New Yorker, I like to see myself as open minded, unbiased, inclusionary, tolerant, yada, yada, yada. But you have to be careful in the way the fear machine seeps in.

Because of a late reservation for my last trip to London, the only affordable ticket was on Air India. Whether I liked it or not, there was an extra level of fear and anxiety that naturally crept in on the security line because everyone around me was, well, brown. Of course, I knew that Indians are different than Middle Easterners (though I justified some fear with the large Indian Muslim population). Nevertheless, I was shocked how much the not so subtle fear campaign of this administration has affected me.

That’s not to say that Indian people aren’t different. Much like the Chinese and I theorize other over-populated cultures which have people that have to fight fiercely for resources, the Indians in the airport were pushy in crowds. I always had someone leaning on me, from the back, from the side. When we boarded at the gate, the gate attendant had to call security because the crowd was pushing past her. She tried to hold them back, even raised her leg to brace the door. It was surreal, laughable even. Yes, Indians are a very pushy people.

But why should you believe me, when I write this? Am I not just another source of bias?

I believe many stereotypes are generally true. But you have to be careful about the ones you accept versus the ones you observe without bias. The fear machine is out there, and they are preying on us. And like a virus, they spread easily and muddy the water. And that's the worst brown planet of all.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Trevor, I suggest you try an easyjet or ryanair flight and, believe me, you get everyone giving it a good old shove to get on board, no matter what nationality or colour they are.
I was surprised how much this fear machine has been instilled into the American people, and that you actually felt that extra level of fear getting aboard Air India. My only fear on getting onto an Air India flight would be whether the plane will get off the ground and if it will land in one piece. Please don’t assume that I am being bias towards Indian planes:)

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