New Delhi, May 5, 2017: Many people hailing from Northeast are being asked weird questions like, “Do you guys eat Dog Meat”, “Are you from China?”, etc. The amalgamation of stereotypes and racism is consequent in making the ‘Indian’ citizens hailing from the Northeastern part of India alienated.
10 girls from Northeast India recall racial slurs or supposedly ‘jokes’ that they encountered in ‘mainland’ India. The ordeal with racism is paltry amount of shame is associated with it. If you are at the receiving end of a racist attack, you are told by people around you to laugh it off because, ‘joke hai yaar‘.
These racial remarks and slurs are masqueraded as ‘curiosity’ or ‘jokes’. In an article published by Huffington Post, we get to know the plight of North-east Girls in India and what they deal with for who they are-
1. Trisha Bhuyan, 27, Assam: Once I was interning with a reputed newspaper around 5 years back. The other intern and I were having a generic conversation, when I told her that I did my schooling in Assam. She said, “Assam?…er…there are schools there? Isn’t it all jhopar pattis?”
2. Priyanjana Roy Das, 25, Assam: When a I was in Bangalore, a very perplexed friend asked if Guwahati was in Kerala, upon hearing that I am from that. But leave that, once I have been asked if a passport is required to go to the Northeast. Till this day, I hope that she was actually talking about a permit and not a passport.
3. Precious Kamei, 30, Manipur: I am a Naga, from Manipur so I have been subjected to a lot of ignorant remarks. I still get asked, “Have you ever tried human meat?” I mean why, just because I am a Naga? “Ise gussa mat dila, sab kuch khati hain…insaan ko bhi khati hain” (don’t make her angry, she eats everything…even humans) — this was supposed to be a joke. Our ancestors might have been head hunters, but mixing this up with cannibalism is just plain ignorant and stereotypical. I grew up knowing that I am an Indian. It was only after coming to Delhi that I was made aware that I am a Northeastern.
4. Abhilasha M*, 28, Meghalaya: I am an Assamese who have been brought up in Shillong. Although my Hindi has always been a butt of jokes, it is my looks that catches everyone’s attention. “But you don’t look Northeastern,” I have been told over and over again, even a couple of days ago.
5. Richivandana Gogoi, 27, Assam: I was at my gym a couple of days ago, when the instructor decided to talk to me. “Aap kahaan se ho? Northeast? West Bengal? Kyunki aapke face se pata nahin chal raha,” he stated. (Where are you from? Northeast? West Bengal? Because I can’t make out from your face) I answered I am from Assam. He then spoke that I don’t look like I am from Northeast because apparently Northeastern people are supposed to be fair and I am dusky. He also spoke that the Northeast is a very perilous place, which is why he has never went there.
6. Annie L, 33, Nagaland: This was last year in Bengaluru. I was mansplained that Northeast was inherently wild, until someone civilised came and turned it better. What does that even mean?
7. Richa Barman, 39, Assam: This was during my college days, so it has been a while. I was asked if I was a member of the extremist outfit, ULFA or if any of my relatives were.
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8. R. Konyak*, 30, Nagaland: Once a college friend asked me if my house in Nagaland is made of bamboos. I was patient and replied that we don’t live in tree houses. She took a couple of minutes to take this new bit of information in and spoke, “But I thought you all live in bamboo houses.”
9. E. Kharraswai*, 33, Meghalaya: I don’t think people from the “mainland” can distinguish between a Manipuri or a Naga or a Mizo. They believe that all the tribes are all Nagas. So, naturally, there have been a number of times I have heard ignorant stuff but there is this incident that I thought was the epitome of all things ignorant. A junior from college and I shared a rickshaw to college, when she asked me where I was from. I said Meghalaya. She replied, “Oh, that is in which state?”
10. N. Tzudir, 20, Nagaland: When I moved to Delhi for my undergraduate programme, in my first week at my hostel a girl said, “Oh you are from Nagaland? I thought you are from India”. When I gave her a piece of my mind, she clarified, “I meant from Delhi, Punjab, MP, you know.”