Racism…or culture clash?

The U.K. is psycho-analyzing itself this week after complaints of racism towards Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on Big Brother. I personally don’t watch reality shows (as I find my own life much more exciting). Apparently, disparaging remarks were made regarding Shetty’s entire person, including the way she carries herself, the way she eats and speaks, and her hygiene. She was also allegedly called a “dog” and a “Paki.”

The TV station, Channel 4, that carries this reality show refuses to pin the word “racism” on this, saying “We have reached the view that we cannot with certainty say that the comments directed at Shilpa have been racially motivated or whether they stem from broader cultural and social differences.” Similarly, some cautious on-lookers are calling the incident a result of “culture and class clash” (as if that is so much better!)

In order to live with one another in civil society, we have to be ready to, at the very least, accept each other’s differences. Ideally, we should each embrace the cultural richness that “the other” brings to us. I am very, very pleased that this incident has brought up so much debate in the U.K. They (and we) need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and what’s brewing underneath. The effort on the part of the U.K. to get to the crux of the matter is admirable.

The most alarming and inane comment to come out of all this (and believe me there have been many) actually came out of the mouth of a fellow Indian. Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt in Mumbai’s DNA newspaper said: “I believe no-one can insult you without your permission. Shilpa Shetty has paid the price for trying to desperately seek the approval of the West. It is pathetic how we can go on bended knees and lick the boots of Westerners in an effort to be part of their world.”

What the…??? So rather than applaud this woman for attempting to integrate, you insult her and call her pathetic?? Way to go for solidarity (I pity your wife).

In examining all this, quotes, news coverage, etc…I’ve come to the conclusion that in addition to exhibiting racist behaviour, whether or not intentional, Ms. Goody at the same time displayed her own insecurities. The fact that Shetty is a beautiful, accomplished actress who carries herself with poise, dignity, and grace was just too much for Ms. Goody. In fact, the way Ms. Goody reacted to Shetty was a clash of class.

Shetty has class, Goody has none.

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