'It's like I have a disease': Citizens of African nations talk of the racism they face in India

You're standing at a zoo, and looking at a caged animal, admiring it, scrutinizing every aspect of it, observing it's walk, it's skin. Now imagine you're that caged animal, and people are gawking at you like you're an alien, like you don't belong. That is how black citizens of African nations say they feel in India, they aren't caged but they might as well be.

Its like I have a disease: Citizens of African nations talk of the racism they face in India

Screen grab from video.

But this is not a new problem we have. Let's not beat around the bush and accept what a lot of Indians really are: racists. And a new video puts arguments on the subject to rest.

A complicated mixture of prejudice, ignorance and centuries-old discriminatory practices, have continued into 21st century India resulting in racism, prejudice and xenophobia. It's not even like this is directed only at foreign nationals. Indian citizens from north eastern states complain of being called ‘chinky', and asked if they are Japanese, Chinese or Korean.

A black man in India is automatically considered a drug dealer, sex trafficker or a violent person. A black woman is a sex worker. That's just the icing on top of the cake of all the things the people in this video say they've had to deal with while living in India.

According to Indian government statistics, there are approximately 1,000 Ugandan students in India while numerous nationals of other sub- Saharan African countries also live here.

For one man, who speaks in the video, living and working in Delhi he just cannot understand why Indians cover their faces with a handkerchief when he stands next to them.

"Like as if I have a disease," he says in the video that highlights the plight of the African nationals. Even the police are not on their side: they say "because he's African he's guilty of whatever crime he's accused of."

If you're a fair-skinned foreigner you're treated like you're a VIP, if you're dark-skinned you're treated like the lowest scum of the earth. And if you do react, you risk an uproar and Indians gathering up to teach you a lesson; as seen in the case of the Delhi metro mob.

In September last year, an attack on three African students at the busy Rajiv Chowk metro station in New Delhi brought to light India's racist undertones. The attack was triggered off when the African students asked co-passengers why they were clicking pictures of them. Cue Indian passengers “misbehaving and manhandling” the students. At the police officer’s office and some racist comments later, a fight broke out and the students were beaten up by a mod shouting "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" (Glory to mother India) and "Vande Mataram" (Jai india). The video later went viral on social media.

Nura, a young woman living in Delhi says "They (Indians) just talk among themselves while looking at you directly and just start laughing." Another woman, Anna, couldn't even go and eat at her college mess because people would stare and laugh at her.

What Indians perhaps need to realise is that they cannot expect other countries to accept and live peacefully with the scores of Indians who travel abroad to study or work without ensuring a hospitable environment for those come to us for the same.

Watch this heartbreaking video on how Indians mistreat people from African nations living here:

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Updated Date: May 18, 2015 13:11:00 IST

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