Do You See?

Color, caste, class: set a wake-up time India

Three of us Rutgers-Camden poets were on the road attending a poetry reading by Philip Levine and Ed Hirsch. On our way back at a diner, we started talking about politics and times as anyone would. About the US, about other countries. To my colleague’s question about color, caste and class bias in India I recalled this article by an African student in India. Yes, “India is racist, and happy about it”. Do I need post that pubs in Bangalore are restricting African nationals from entering their venue? Color is caste, ergo, color is class. Such is the all-pervasive bias. Wake up, shameless society.

Numerous news items about caste discrimination and atrocities from various sources — attention big media, you’re no longer the player — make the Gulag look better. DIEPIRIYE KUKU is a ‘foreigner’, you’d argue, but what happens to millions who are not? It is about human lives after all.

The denial is dangerous. Read Roundtable India, be informed.

On a related note, I want to read again Devid Dabydeen’s poem (had posted in FB earlier).

Coolie Mother

Jasmattie live in bruk-

Down hut big like Bata shoe-box,

Beat clothes, weed yard, chop wood, feed fowl

For this body and that body and every blasted body

Fetch water, all day water like if the

Whole slow-flowing Canje river God create

Just for she one bucket.

Till she foot bottom crack and she hand cut-up

And curse swarm from she mouth like red ants

And she cough blood on the ground but mash it in:

Because Jasmattie heart hard, she mind set hard.

To hustle save she one-one penny,

Because one-one dutty make dam cross the Canje

And she son Harrilal got to go school in Georgetown

Must wear clean starch pants, or they go laugh at he,

Strap leather on he foot, and he must read book,

Learn talk proper, take exam, go to England university,

Not turn out like he rum-sucker chamar dadee.

There is a good amount of debate as to why the mother in this poem should be at all ranting about her own identity/economic condition… then, Dabydeen does a deliberate play on the title as well as the last line.


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This entry was posted on July 6, 2011 by in caste, color, india.
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