A famous Bollywood movie called Fashion featured the downfall of a fashion model played by an even more famous actress Priyanka Chopra. The nadir of her career and life is shown when she meets a Black man in a club and discovers later in the morning that she slept with him.She walks out of the room filled with extreme guilt. The scene of the film became viral. UTV Motion Pictures (owned by Disney) itself posted the video on YouTube in its channel. It still exists with the name “Priyanka Chopra Sleeps With a Black Man – Fashion”.
Coming to America from New Delhi only two years ago, I had almost zero understanding or experience of America high school education system and diversity matters until I came to Teach For America, a month ago. When Matt Kramer mentioned the word ‘other’ in the first reflection, it made me question every experience I had in India with Africans and African Americans. When I watched that film five years ago, I was flowing with emotions sitting in the theater like all other audience. The absurdness of the scene did not at all occur to me. But now I ask why could they not use any Indian person for that character? A black man was sufficiently different from ‘us’ so that he could be used as an ‘other’.
My parents would probably never allow me to marry a Muslim woman. Because Muslims are ‘others’ for them.
When I worked in Himalayas, and co-interned with a colleague of Uganda, kids in the village will giggle every time this colleague would pass by. He was an ‘other’ for them.
What would it take a Zimmerman to see a Martin as one of him?
I grew up with some Muslim classmates in kindergarten and grade school. As a child, I shared lunch box with them. I would trade my rice-lentils with their biryani. Many years later, when I went to college, two of my closest friends happened to by Muslims. This was only possible because I was able to bridge the distance to the ‘other’ when I was too young to have any meaning of the ‘other’.
This was how I made the ‘other’ as one of me. How would you do?
PS: My mother just returned from her pilgrimage to an Islamic Shrine Pushkar where she prayed for a nice Hindu girl to enter my life soon.