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‘Racist’ cartoon in Australian daily shows Indians eating solar panels

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source: independent.co.uk
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Sydney: A cartoon depicting Indians eating solar panels published in an Australian daily on Monday has attracted strong criticism owing to its “racist” overtone, a media report said.

The cartoon by Bill Leak was published in the Australian, depicting starving Indians chopping up and eating solar panels sent to the developing nation in an attempt to curb carbon emissions, the Independent reported.

“This cartoon is unequivocally racist and draws on very base stereotypes of the third world, underdeveloped people who don’t know what to do with technology,” the report quoted Amanda Wise, an associate professor of sociology at Macquarie University, as saying.

“India is the technology centre of the world right now and has some of the most high-tech industries on the planet in that part of the world. The underlying message is that people in developing countries don’t need all these technologies to do with climate change — they need food.”

“But actually it is people living in poverty that will suffer the most through food security, sea level rises, dropping of the water table.”

Editor Clive Mathieson of the Rupert Murdoch-run News Corp daily confirmed he edited Monday’s paper but declined to comment on the shocking cartoon.

“I don’t know too many places in the world where you would get away with that, to be honest. In Britain and the US, there would be an incredible outcry. It is appalling,” Wise said.

“This is really old imagery he has drawn on. Thin, starving people wearing turbans, who are so starving they are going to chop up solar panels. That is 1950s symbolism. We have moved on. The rest of the world has moved on,” she said.

“In Australia, people from India are the second largest migrant group and they are coming here on skilled visas.”

Leak’s cartoon was also widely condemned on Twitter.

“How backward is Aust #climate politics? Here, the absurd racist rubbish published by Murdoch’s national newspaper,” tweeted David Pope.

“Hey Bill Leak, some facts on India’s renewable energy sector. They’re a lot smarter than your cartoons are funny,” tweeted another user who goes by the name Mr Denmore.

Lisa Singh tweeted: “Incredibly disappointed by Bill Leak’s cartoon today. Shows complete ignorance of India and insults every Indian.”

Yin Paradies, a professor at Deakin University whose research includes the economic effects of racism, said the cartoon’s message was clearly racist.

“The message… is that India is too stupid to handle renewable energy and should stick to coal,” Paradies told the Guardian Australia.

“Suggesting that ‘developing nations are stupid’ is racist given that such nations are invariably associated with specific racial groups (i.e. non-whites).”

India took one of the hardest public lines at the climate change talks in Paris, and in the lead-up to them. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has publicly argued that it would be “morally wrong” to let rich countries off the hook for their historical emissions.

The country has also stood by its decision to use massive quantities of highly polluting coal to power growth over coming decades, all while increasing the proportion of renewable energy.

(Inputs from IANS)

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Why should we talk about Race?

Dr Kumar Mahabir, an anthropologist, brings out the topic of discrimination

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Race has always been a big deal whenever its been spoken about around the globe.
Race has always been a big deal whenever its been spoken about around the globe. Pic by Dr. Munish Raizada taken at the Race exhibition at Chicago History Museum. November 2017
-By Dr Kumar Mahabir
Even academics like me who often view certain topics through the lens of race sometimes
receive negative attention and judgement. Some people feel that speaking or writing
rationally about race is counter-productive and even racist.
Indo-Caribbean people (Indians), in particular, tend to receive condemnation when they
examine topics on the basis of race. Indian victims are often criticised for reporting
discrimination.
On the other hand, Afro-Caribbeans (Africans) receive either indifference or praise when they discuss race. For example, the following comment by a black calypsonian, published in a Trinidad national newspaper, drew praises: “In the midst of black consciousness in the 1970s, Bro Superior told black people ‘No matter where yuh born, Yuh still African’” (Guardian Nov 12, 2017).
Discussing race objectively with empirical data and statistical evidence is not racist. Racism
is the belief that another race of people is inferior. This attitude results in discrimination,
antagonism and domination individually, politically, economically and otherwise.
Race, ethnicity, class, sex, religion, nationality, geography, etc. are valid, legitimate and
appropriate social categories of difference in examining historical and contemporary issues.
Why should someone who talks objectively about race be criticised as a racist? Should we
also condemn someone who uses sex as a mode of inquiry as being sexist? To do so would be ignorant, biased and unfair.
In a recent public broadcast, the Prime Minister of multi-racial Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)
advised some citizens “not to see race in everything we do” (Express Sept 22, 2017). This ill- informed statement was made in relation to the mixed responses he received when he
appealed to citizens to open their homes to displaced Dominican refugees who were devastated by Hurricane Maria.
On the contrary, people should be encouraged to “see race” as well as sex (gender), class, nationality, geography and types of social identity. Studying race can reveal differences in the form of disparities, disadvantages, inequalities, power and privilege which have structured human life in the past and present. To overlook race would be to ignore the elephant in the room.
Criminologist and social psychologist Dr Ramesh Deosaran wrote a book entitled Inequality,
Crime & Education in Trinidad and Tobago: Removing the Masks (2016). He found that there was a toxic relationship among race, class, gender, family and geography, resulting in African students performing the worst in the education system.
Deosaran wrote: “Wittingly or unwittingly, the education system, to a large extent, becomes a racially segregated system. And with academic achievement also stratified by race” (page 163). His data showed that while 47% of African students went to university three years after secondary school, as much as 72% of Indians did so, and 49% of the Mixed group also attended.
Prospective students of Whitman College in the USA are encouraged to enrol in its Race and Ethnic Studies programme. They are told that “ideas about race and ethnicity have been central at many points in world history and remain salient today, whether we talk about ethnic pride or ethnic cleansing, about multicultural diversity or racial discrimination.”
Race and ethnicity are often used interchangeably. However, race refers to biological features (bone structure, facial features, hair texture, skin colour, etc.) and ethnicity denotes cultural traits (history, customs, religion, family-type, values, music, food, etc.).
In the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) CSEC Social Studies syllabus, Section A
(Individual, Family and Society) comprises of a content section that explains characteristics
of the population. These characteristics include age, sex, occupation, religion and ethnicity. In the CXC CAPE Sociology syllabus under Unit 1, Module 3, Social Stratification is
conceptualised according to status mobility, gender, class, colour, caste, race and ethnicity.
The topic of race and ethnicity is studied not only in sociology but also in history,
anthropology, cultural studies, visual culture, media, literature, communication, law, health,
human rights, gender, political science, economics, geography, public policy, international
relations, social psychology, etc.
In a research paper entitled “Understanding race and crime in Trinidad and Tobago,”
criminologist Dr Randy Seepersad (2017) found that most of the murderers, victims, accused and prisoners are Africans. His disaggregated data demonstrated that most of the violent crimes are committed by blacks against blacks.
In 2011, former National Security Minister John Sandy said, “We must recognise that it is
people looking like me who are being murdered, mothers like my mother, God rest her soul, who are out there weeping more than any other race” (Express Sep 3, 2011).
Race has always been a major factor in voting in all general elections in T&T. This form of
ethnic polarisation has been well documented by pollsters such as SARA, NACTA, ANSA
McAl and H.H.B. & Associates Ltd. Most Africans and Mixed persons support the PNM
while most Indians vote for the PP/UNC.
 
Dr. Kumar Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books. He lives in Trinidad.