Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It doesn't matter if you're Barack or White

Michael Jackson must be on teleconference right now with his plastic surgeon cajoling him to change him back to black, now that it's fashionable to be black again.

Barack Obama has changed all that.

I say this with the supreme confidence of one in the 'know', since I've had to hear the "ujjal shyam borno" (bright wheatish skin colour) rubbish all my life.

Globalisation is a wonderful thing.
Who would have thought Shoma kakima from college street, North Calcutta would be glued to the TV as results from the US Presidential election poured in early morning.

No, she is not an economist worried about global recession. Her bailout package goes as far as the monthly debt at the local grocery store.

Neither is she one of the rabid social worker type obsessed with world politics.
She is a mother of two and a housewife. Her dark skin colour excluded her from the perks that go with being fair, as she keeps telling us.

Plum marriage alliances from NRI grooms, stacks of love notes at college, sweet adoration at home from relatives, envy of girl friends, in general all the things that women secretly live for.

When I asked her why she is so obsessed with the US elections, especially at the cost of irking her husband and in-laws for neglecting household duties, this is what she said with a strange gleam in her dark doe eyes.

"I know nothing about how voting works in America, I do not understand their local issues. But in New York lives an NRI man who my parents approached once for my marriage. He turned me down, rudely, because not only was I dark skinned, I could not even be passed off as wheatish.

If he is watching today's vote, he will know that it's all changing. I can truly feel in my dark Bengali heart what pain and atrocities the blacks must have had to undergo in their day to day struggle for equality. Obama da has changed all that."

Change. The devilish simplicity of the political campaign strategy of Barack Obama - the 44th American President and the first black to lead the nation.

May be Shoma kakima's reasoning is personal and not strictly objective or informed. But the message is sinking in slowly - the humongous attitude change in a nation where segregation has always remained a sore issue for politicians.

He is the rock star for the moment and my black face is aching from smiling so much at his win - a win for every single one of Americans who once in their life time have put up with verbal or physical abuse for their skin colour.

I had to write this post to vent my surprise at how this win has connected, in the strangest way, a dingy north Calcutta home with so many cheering millions in the US.


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