Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Darkies please, we're Indian !

When it was announced that U.S. style cheerleaders were being imported to spur on the teams in the India Premier League, everyone agreed that this move would add colour to the traditionally sedate cricket scene. Here is the link to the story on Economic Times. Apparently, however, on one occasion this added more colour than the Desi audience could stomach. It has been widely reported in the Indian press that two cheerleaders, part of a group imported from London, were unacceptable to the organisers of a recent match at Mohali, and asked to leave the grounds. The two unfortunate young ladies reportedly exited in tears. Their shortcoming ? They were black !

The Indian yen for light complexions is not a secret, of course, especially to those who have perused the matrimonial ads. These are full of insertions that sheepishly admit to “wheatish” or proudly proclaim “fair” on behalf of their candidates. None claim to be glowingly dusky. Then of course there have been reports of monkey gestures directed towards black athletes of visiting teams. In Australia, Harbajan Singh barely got away from the charge of racism, he denied describing Symonds as a “monkey”, pleading that what he had actually said was “Teri Ma ki..” an expression at which I personally would have taken greater offence if directed at me !

In spite of all this, Indians are generally quiet about their colour complexes in public, and much given to vigorous protests when at the receiving end of racist slurs. The recent case of Shilpa Shetty comes to mind. The outrage her experience caused in England was shared around the world, and the sympathy factor propelled her to even higher levels of celebrity (much deserved – I think everyone will agree she is a delightful personality, who handled herself with great dignity during her ordeal)

Undoubtedly the case of the two unfortunate black cheerleaders will be widely reported in the English press, and the Indian reaction to this incident (official and unofficial) will be interesting to follow. And to think all this is going on while in the United States a black candidate is gathering massive support as a Presidential nominee !


Anonymous said...

I am tempted to say that it is ultimately sexism that triumphs. Could you ever imagine a problem with black cricketers? But with black women cheerleaders, of course. I am going to vote Obama and am no fan of Hillary, but I think part of her problem is that she is a woman.

Anonymous said...

can you please provide a link to the story?

ishani said...

I have somehow missed this news - on the Black cheerleaders. But the entire concept of cheerleaders has generated a huge debate, specially in Mumbai among Shiv Sainiks and former bar dancers as well as in Kolkata among the bhadraloks. WHile the rest are outraged over the clothes of the cheerleaders (or the lack of them) the Mumbai bar dancers have demanded that they be allowed to perform in bars again if cheerleaders can perform at the IPL matches. In fact, the cheerleaders - who are still around - have now been forced to change their outfits to avoid controversy.

Rahul said...

all commercial sports including electoral politics should be banned. period.

Devika said...

Dear Kaisar,
Thanks for this very important story, which I had missed somehow. I will post a comment later today.

Kaisar Ahmad said...

Dear Anonymous #2

here are two links

Devika said...

Dear Kaisar, giid editorial today in The Telegraph

"Racism is ugly — always and everywhere. But in a country so giddy with the bliss of new-found freedoms, it takes on a particularly nasty quality. The shock, followed by a longer and more diffuse feeling of public humiliation and helplessness, which the two black cheerleaders had to go through in Mohali, and continue to feel now, is an experience every civilized Indian would do well to try to imagine."

Here is the link


ishani said...

To be fair to all, I would like to point out that Wizcraft the event management company for the IPL matches has issued a statement washing its hands off this incident. Their spokesperson has said that they did not directly hire or fire any cheerleaders and have been dealing with the agents of these girls who are based overseas. They also point out that the event was brought to light almost a month after it happened and allege that the girls are actually trying to extort money. I am, however, not taking any sides here but just providing this perspective.

Kaisar Ahmad said...

Devika, Ishani and our other readers - can you let me know what is happening on the cheerleader scene after this reported incident ? Are black cheerleaders still performing or not ? Also, I understand that the dress of the cheerleaders has become more modest after some public outcry !