The Fault In Our Stars!

Even though we were living during the time of the literal pandemic, it was just another normal day for some of us and I was one of those few people. On 25 May 2020, when I woke up and checked my social media, it was flooded with posts of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who died in Minneapolis, while he was being restrained by the police. In the video footage of the incident, which was broadcast by the media and went viral on social media platforms, he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer as he gasped for breath. The death has triggered violent unrest in Minneapolis, leading to a state of peacetime emergency being declared in Minnesota state as well as the activation of its National Guard. 

To show the solidarity against systemic racism in the country and the Black Lives Matter movement, people started protesting and soon the protest escalated in other major American cities. As happy as I was to see these people standing together for justice, I wondered what stand we, as an Indians, take on significant issues like these? And what stand, our celebrities take, to whom we idolize in real as well as reel life?

After some homework, I got to know that most of us are vocal only for the issues of another country. From our celebrities to politicians to normal people, we keep mum on our country’s political issues. Maybe it doesn’t discomfort us enough to get us out on the road, protest and take stand against the wrong. 

During the series of events that have been happening in the world, there were many horrific incidences occurred parallelly in India as well, for which, our celebrities have taken a firm pledge of silence; however, for the incidences outside the country, they have posted and reposted their empathy story on Insta, showing their support for the community.

Many people accused Bollywood on keeping mum for locals and for not taking a stand on contentious issues such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the government late last year, or the protests and violence that followed after the passage of the law. Among the list of accusations, the major ones are listed below.

Accusation 1: The actors were accused of “cowardice” for their refusal to call out the attacks on India’s minorities, mainly Muslims while protesting against the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

Accusation 2: Same actors were seen promoting products designed to make people’s skin lighter, or maintaining silence on domestic issues.

Accusation 3: Not even the half of them talked about students who were beaten up by Delhi Police personnel, death of Kashmiri Pandits, the lynching of Sadhus, and many more. Why? Because it would have involved them into the controversy? Or because they don’t want their career to suffer by confronting on the actual issues?

While most of them adapted the utmost silence, others took the courage to step up and talk about the unfair situation that we are in. One of them is, Kangana Ranaut, a noted actress, who spoke out against her Bollywood colleagues for promoting fairness products. “These people, especially Indian celebrities, the successful ones, have been endorsing all kinds of fairness products and today shamelessly they stand and say black lives matter – I mean how dare they?” she said in an interview.

“End this race war here in the US, and around the world. Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin colour,” Priyanka Chopra Jonas, 37, posted on Instagram. People were quick to call her out on social media for previously promoting an “intense fairness moisturiser”.

Many social media users also called out the hypocrisy behind Bollywood actors expressing outrage over the death of a pregnant elephant in Kerala state, while maintaining silence on the imprisonment of activist Safoora Zargar, who was arrested in April despite being pregnant for protesting against the CAA.

“So our starlets who did not even whisper about the anti-Muslim carnage in Delhi, the spate of lynchings, the citizenship bill, the arrests of academics and intellectuals are outraging with the hashtag #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER. PUKE,” Journalist Rana Ayyub posted on Twitter.

“So much respect for all the celebrities tweeting #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER. It takes courage to bring your cowardice to the fore when you tweet for American lives but can’t tweet for Indian lives,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, now divided into two federal territories.

“Floyd’s killing by police and the black live matter agitation in the US has given a clear message to the world that a common man’s life has value and it should not be taken for granted. India’s constitution guarantees independence, security, self-respect and pride and the government should give special attention to it. It was followed, crores of migrants labourers would not have to witness such bad days.” tweeted National President of BSP and Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

By Karishma Gwalani

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