Friday, December 16, 2005

Identity

Via AP, Morgan Freeman: The Concept Of A Month Dedicated To Black History Is "Ridiculous"

The legendary African-American actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," he says.

He's precisely right. And the same concept applies to all manner of other divisive identities that are humanity's baggage.

In modern India, regardless of how it has come about, caste is one such identity. Regretfully, the manner the Indian state has chosen to erase the burden of caste reinforces it every day.

On a more personal level, to the extent individual Indians consider their caste identities irrelevant in our 21st century context, why do we still carry around our traditional surnames -- which are clear caste signifiers -- instead of inventing more neutral expressions of our valid familial identities?

3 comments:

Jaffna said...

Primary Red,

It is hard to refute the point that you make. But race and caste remain salient as long as the inequality of opportunity based on such concepts remain. Hence the continued relevance of both identity constructs.

I have always liked Black History Month - i.e. February. To me it is a time to celebrate the achievements of the African American and to reflect on the challenges ahead. This is not necessarily divisive unless people make it so.

Best

nukh said...

pr, i agree, caste is one of the most virulently divisive issue facing india now and into the forseeable future.
but fixing it is easier said than done. we can't impose a surname change , anymore than we can legislate that people stop seeing each other along racial or religious lines..
the only workable solution in my opinion is education...education and some more education....for the so called upper castes.

libertarian said...

PR agree that caste is an evil that's got to be eradicated.

nukh agree with the education part. South India is much better off because of this than the feudal North.

The other great equaliser is cold hard moolah. Break the economic shackles and a bunch of other dependent controls vanish. This is true for caste and this is true for women.

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