Few days ago, at 11 P.M., I switched off all lights and got into my bed. The windows brought no moonlight for there was no moon that night. Clouds made sure the stars didn’t shine. Darkness was everywhere. I’ve always liked it that way for bedtime. Few minutes later I fell asleep. Then, I don’t precisely know when, my dream began. I remember very well and vividly every detail of that dream.
I was in a room with no doors or windows. The four walls, the floor and the ceiling are all painted in white. A man sat in a white chair in front of me. He wore white shirt, white trousers and white flip-flops. In his left hand was a white cell-phone. He had white hair, white eyebrows, white moustache, white beard and white skin. On the wall to his right, there was a white board. A sentence in one line was written on the white board in black ink. I don’t like black people. This was the only thing not white in that room. I looked at him and was dazzled by his whiteness.
“Who are you? Where am I?” I inquired. “I am Mr. White and you are in my study.” he replied.
I looked at that sentence in black. “So you are a racist.” I said, rubbing my eyes. “No.” Quick came his reply. “What? You hate black people. That’s clear racism sir.” I retorted. “I wrote that I don’t like them, not that I hate them.” “Alright, but still, you are discriminating based on race. So it’s racism.” “I am still not convinced son. Don’t you think it’s my right to decide on what I like and what I don’t? I don’t find black color on humans appealing and that’s why I don’t like black people. What’s wrong in this?”
“It’s wrong Mr. White because this feeling gives birth to injustice. Assume that you are an interviewer trying to recruit only one person. You have two people who have everything exactly similar except the color of their skin. One is white and the other black. Now tell me, which one would you choose?”
“In such hypothetical situation of impossible exactness as you describe, young man, I will pull out a coin from my pocket and will let a fair toss determine the outcome of the interview.”
“But you said you don’t like black people. You could have selected the white person. Why didn’t you?”
“Yes. I don’t like black people. But I am interviewing them for the job. I care about color but the job doesn’t. Job cares about who can do it well. As an interviewer of the firm and in firm’s interest, all I should care about is how well a person can do the job. Color shall never be a concern.”
I paused for a moment.
“Okay. Imagine you are in a train compartment and there are two people sitting in front of you. One is white and the other black. Whom will you start a conversation with?”
“If it happens in reality, I will not start a conversation with either of them. In trains I prefer books to humans any day. But if you condition that I should talk to one of the two, it will again depend on what I want to ask or say. If they are again the same except color, I don’t see any reason in choosing one over the other.”
“You behave like a normal person without any prejudice towards color. Yet you claim that you don’t like black people. I don’t understand.”
“Racism is about considering a race superior to other for no justifiable reason. Racism, casteism or regionalism and other discriminations are wrong because they judge a human not by his actions but by his birth over which he has absolutely no control. But when it comes to personal level, things are very complicated.
There is a great chance that I will not be romantically involved with a black person. Black woman are not beautiful. And when I say that, you should understand that it is merely my perspective and not a universal truth. If I don’t find them appealing, it might be because of many factors which only a psycho-analyst can dare to attempt indentifying. This perspective of mine might change in the future. If a stranger black woman asks me out on a date, I wouldn’t go because she is black and I don’t like black on humans. This is not injustice at all. Interestingly, going on a date with her would be injustice because it would be an act of utter dishonesty, acknowledging that there’s no future yet giving her hope. And again, one can never be sure of anything.
What’s within me is not racism. It’s not discrimination. It’s choice. It’s not universal. It’s perspective. It’s not about the world. It’s about me. And no, it cannot be injustice. I don’t like black people. Yet, I am not a racist. Now tell me son. What do you think? Am I a racist?”
I stood there staring at his intense eyes. I did not speak a word. I was very confused. And suddenly loud music reverberated around the room.
“Your cell-phone, it’s ringing. Someone’s calling you.” I blurted.
“My cell-phone is on silent. It’s yours.” He answered, smiling.
I woke up, spoke to my mom, and went back to sleep. I slept for another four hours but never met Mr. White again. (End of this article/story)
Two days I left this article alone. I forgot that I wrote this. I indulged myself in other regular activities. I fell into the normality of my life. I managed a few pages of Freud, two days of office and lot of caffeine. Then I read few chapters of Alex Haley’s Roots.
Today, a minute ago I reread this article I wrote. Suddenly I felt different. Yes, I feel I did manage to accommodate some logic, but how trivial it is when compared to the atrocities of racism, to all the suffering inflicted upon the blacks in the form of slavery. How shamelessly was the spirit of freedom shackled by fellow humans! How many innocent lives were taken for satisfying baseless whims of the whites! How dark the history was, how immature I am and how obscure everything seems to be!