Representational image | A vendor hands a customer change at a stall in an organic vegetable market in Gangtok, Sikkim | Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan | Bloomberg
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Apart from the novel coronavirus, which has so far claimed over 22,000 lives worldwide, there is another outbreak that is unfolding in India, and it is no less deadly — a slew of racist attacks on the northeastern community in the country.

The frequent reports of hateful acts and racial slurs, which the people from the northeast have been receiving, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic frenzy gripped the country, is quite disturbing and utterly disgraceful as a fellow citizen (from Nagaland) to witness.
If you have been on social media lately, then you would have read or seen a handful of videos/articles about racism against northeastern people where they are being name-called (‘corona’), spat at, abused and mistreated.

Also read: ‘Beaten, abused, spat on’: People from Northeast endure racist slurs amid coronavirus panic

One more in the slang dictionary

Apart from ‘momo’, ‘chowmein’, ‘chinki’, etc. another slang to make an official entry in this ‘racist’ dictionary is ‘corona’. As someone from Nagaland, I am used to going through the evolving dynamics of racism in India. Name-calling, pass. Questioned about our “weird” food choices, pass. Made fun of “non-existent” eyes, pass. And now being told, “Tumhare yahan se toh aya na HA-HA-HA” (they mean the coronavirus). The list is endless.

How do I feel about that? Sometimes, I just choose to stay quiet and let it pass. Not because I can’t take a stand for myself or people from my community, but because I feel immensely sorry for the person who reveals his/her idiocy. We belong to a vibrant and more diverse part of the country, which you have no idea about, because of your sheer ignorance and lack of acknowledgement towards your own people. Curse me, if I’m wrong.

Also read: On International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a look at our own racism

Racism a poison for the mind

The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as, “The belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior”. It is essential for every person to understand and contextualise how racism operates and what makes people assume that one race is superior to the other.

We should not forget that at the end of the day, we are all mere human beings, mortals. By being prejudiced towards people because of how they look (non-Indians, they say) and where they come from (China, most of the time), you are not just being a racist, but also a xenophobe and a bigot. These combinations are poisons to the minds and inflict hatred and divisiveness in society.

Also read: From Ola to Zomato to social media, I now hide my Muslim identity everywhere

Message to fellow Indians

The corona crisis is an opportunity for all communities in India to unite as responsible citizens for the well-being of the country, and not indulge in hatred against a particular group of people. Such incidents will only weaken our fight against Covid-19.

Views are personal.

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