We are all racists

This is going to be in response of Russel’s blog post about Racism. But before I delve into that, I just want to take a side track towards audio in the PC world because –

a. It’s an easy story and maybe people can help me.
b. Racism is a tough subject to broach or talk about without possibility of hurting others feelings.

Few months back, I had shared about how I bought an Asus Intel motherboard .

Asus motherboard

Copyright – Amazon.in

One of the reasons which I probably didn’t mention probably at the time were some of the specs. which the motherboard had which sort of won me over. One of those features was the audio part .

From Asus’s own manual about the motherboard –

Audio – Realtek ® ALC887 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– LED-illuminated design: Brighten up your build with the gorgeous illuminated
audio trace path
– Audio Shielding: Ensures precision analog/digital separation and greatly reduces
multi-lateral interference
– Dedicated audio PCB layers: Separate layers for left and right channels to guard
the quality of the sensitive audio signals
– Premium Japanese audio capacitors: Provide warm, natural and immersive
sound with exceptional clarity and fidelity
– Supports jack-detection, and front panel jack-retasking

– Reference Asus

While I knew that the audio codec is somewhat middle of the road and has an analogue output as can be seen from green colored port which has been since the beginning I used a computer system. I was suggested to go for a dedicated sound card but as am not an audiophile decided to use the ALC887 connected to my 2 speaker setup from years ago.

I was expecting a better sound but couldn’t find any difference between the new system and the old system which left me a bit bewildered. I was/am under the impression that the newer generation DAC and the audio codec would have generated a slightly better output than the old system/motherboard but was not to be.

As luck would have it, the old speaker setup which served me for about 7 years (a low-end Philips 2 speaker setup) stopped working one fine day leaving me with no option but to get new speakers. I was looking for a 2 speaker setup when suddenly was offered a Creative SBS A120 at a pretty stealish price. The two speakers standalone unit were around 1k while the 2.1 speaker setup was for 1.3k/- . With having a sub-woofer and a wired remote control, it was too sweet a deal to ignore. I did see the SBSA120 was the most basic model in the SBS stable it was still an upgrade to the existing setup. I know that many people nowadays have 10 or more speakers and dual sub-woofers to go at their own homes. The whole positional audio is supposed to be the next big thing.

Few hours later, I was able to feel the difference that the sub-woofer bought to the whole sound experience. And this is while I am experiencing a slight hearing loss in my left ear for some reason. The tests told me I would have to re-listen at least quarter of century of music and movies all over again. I had my first brush with Dolby sound in a cinema theater in 1991 when the theater near my place ‘Mangala’ had the dolby sound with the film ‘Saajan‘. There was a bit of controversy which hasn’t been mentioned in either the article or the talk page. One of the major reasons for the enormous popularity of the movie was the Dolby sound, not taking the talent the playback singers and others did to make the music. There was lot of talk and rumors that ‘Saajan’ would not have been such a big hit if the Dolby sound wasn’t used as it bought the bass, the tonal quality that Dolby bought in.

It was then about few years later when I first heard about the ‘Osho Ashram’ which was in my own city. A chance trip and few experiences in the Ashram and heard the terms ‘noise cancellation’ , ‘shielding’, ‘sound engineer a profession I never knew existed’ both former terms of which I would hear amplified over the years 🙂

Needless to say they were using ‘Marshall which as I could come to know years later as one of the best amplifiers and probably never own. I was just impressed that none of the speakers emitted noise or static as they did then and are common even today in most public gatherings, even many technical events held in the city. While most people know the sub-woofer or mistake it as ‘booster’ as its known in common parlance most people are simply unaware about noise cancellation and EM shielding and how much that could help in how we hear things.

The only thing which I’ve yet to fix on the audio setup side is to get the sub-woofer on a separate stand or something as the woofer vibrates quite a bit. With that comes whole crazy train.

Unless I someday own my own pad and even then I probably would never get a second sub-woofer although hearing Eagles, Metallica, Aerosmith, GNR is never going to be same again 🙂 I did find a page somewhere where it shared how to make custom stand for the sub-woofer filled with sand something which would open the sub-woofer a bit more though but forgot to bookmark it and hence lost it. If somebody knows something like that, please share.

Now for the hard part.

Taking over from Russel’s blog post a bit, I think Racism is not just a color thing but also needs to be redefined and add casteism, sexism also into it. Over the years I had to make difficult choices and choose my own battles, some in which I had to acquiescence or agree for personal safety and other times where I could hold my ground. But I do see both people (the supposed victor and the loser) from ever growing or learning about the other.

There are just too many examples to share –

1. One of the first experiences I had was when I was in my mid 20s to take a workshop at a somewhat remote place. It was one of those early mashup unconference type of things where people from different backgrounds and shared the work so everybody shared something or the other and everybody learnt a little about themselves. One of the ‘presenters’ asked me if I knew my caste. My upbringing was not particularly religious as most people in my family were not strict about that. The only times we did idol worship was if there was an occasion like Diwali or something but otherwise we were content with trying to figure out everyday life details.

So naturally my answer was my surname which I thought was good enough. It was commented by the gentleman that I probably belonged to a forward caste. I asked why ?

In response he took me, turned around and gave the same question to a bunch of people who were part of the group, apart from one two persons who probably also were from forward castes, all the rest were highly aware of the caste, sub-caste and gotra and lot more details which left me completely clueless. Coincidentally or otherwise, all of them were Dalits . My schooling was done in Children’s Academy excuse for the fb link but there was never any casteism as far as I remember. The only casteism which was practiced was you were sent back if your shoes were not correct or the tie we wore was not of the proper shade. As I had shared earlier elsewhere and I had asked mother after seeing the soaring fees in today’s schools and we didn’t pay much. Hence it never entered my/our vocabulary at all. Hence I was under probably mistaken belief that racism wasn’t practiced in India, probably clueless about what was happening around me. Most of my school-mates and me looked up to ‘Robin’ a Christian but he was looked up for being honest, forthright, getting the best grades and of course was tall. I do know that lot of the girls were smitten by him as some of them did ask me to find a way to get introduced to him.

Similarly, the college I went to was an average college MMCC ours was the first or second batch when the commerce stream was opened so not so much of a hot college as its supposed to be now.

Few years later, I went to the Himalayas, partly for a project and partly because I wanted to travel. The work wasn’t much so the work afforded me to travel around a bit. In many places I saw that because I was from a certain caste I was allowed. This actually left a very bitter taste in the mouth as this was not something I had experienced in my hometown or surroundings. One incident in particular left such a bitter taste that even today I have no idea what would have been the right way.

I was in one of these family lodges. They were of the same ‘caste’ and hence I was given accommodation. They had questioned me why I wasn’t married. In my ‘caste’ most people got married even before the legal age no matter whether you were working or not working etc. I knew intuitively I was emotionally not ready for commitment but didn’t have the understanding or the words to tell that. I gave some excuse and that was end of that.

During my stay, I got friendly with some of the locals. One kid in particular I grew fond of because we both liked ‘Kulfis

matka kulfi

CC-0 Wikipedia.org

It is one of the things that you should taste if you ever come to India. Anyway, there used to be a bicycle vendor and if I was around he would shout and we would both get our kulfis together and at least for me for those moments I would feel like a little boy. I still enjoy kulfis today but not that much.

Anyways, one day he shouted and for some reason I was a little late and the vendor had already gone. Seeing that I had come he offered his kulfi to me, I said no. After a bit of back and forth we reached a compromise that we would each lick a little. The kulfi was little different than the one I have shown above, sort of like candy stick and we would take turns. After takinc couple of licks I offered him back and he said no. When I asked him why, he wouldn’t tell why. I offered him the money in exchange, he quipped something and then ran away.

Later, late night the head of the family called me in front of his family and asked about what had happened. Apparently he had overseen the whole incident. In my innocence I narrated the whole thing. Thereby I was given a lecture as to how the kid knew his place and I didn’t. I couldn’t argue that minute otherwise I wouldn’t have a place to find at that time of the night. Needless to say though, the next day I left the place.

I wish I could have handled it better but how is still a mystery to me.

One another incident which I had shared earlier was about the South African women with mixed parentage of Indians and Africans and how they had a hard time being accepted by either community for marriage. This was shared to me by some of the women themselves. But this as I have discovered afterwards in popular culture is not just confined to South Africa but also Japan, Vietnam and few other places in Asia.

At least in Vietnam’s scenario as so many American GI’s married or had relations with Vietnamese women and the children either within wedlock or out of wedlock were neither accepted by the Vietnamese Govt. or the American Government.

In another incident, sometime back, at a technical workshop/gathering similar to unconferences a bunch of us were sharing our expertise with other attendees. As it happens, we all got friendly and one of the women in one of those alone moments shared that she was unhappy because she was black. I tried to tell her she’s good enough being highly aware that she was 20 years junior to me. What I probably could have said is that if she were 20 years elder, I would have pursued her both for her looks as well as her intelligence and personality. I wish I could give her peace of mind but probably she needs to figure that one out herself.

See also an article about Jesus and Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong. It brings to my mind a TV movie I had seen few years back . In the movie, a gentleman is there who doesn’t seem to age in a decade. His friends are an oldish Catholic American woman, a University professor, a youngish woman who is obviously smitten by him and another young man. It was shared at the beginning of the movie that these five people have been close friends for over a decade, with the mysterious gentleman always being a bit of reserved and shy nature. One evening he asks all of them to come to his house.

Over the evening, as the conversation progresses, in a series of suppositions he reveals that he had been walking on earth through the dawn of time and was coincidentally ‘Jesus’ and the ‘Prophet’ at different times in period. He shared about the various professions he had over his extended life term and everything in that house was made by his two hands. From his perspective, he was the wrong man in the wrong place at wrong time. He did have healing powers but for those he has no explanations. Hearing the suppositions the old Catholic woman becomes highly aggravated and faints where our Jesus/Prophet uses his bit of power to heal her and come back. A sort of ‘Reiki’ healing as it looked in the movie. The University professor is amused and chuckles for he believes both in the possibility of him being the real thing and pulling a fast one. The young chap is excited with this supposed admission and tries to get the law, the papers so that he can get the record straight and even get some of attention on himself. Our hero has to make a quick getaway, the professor and the woman who is smitten by him help him to escape. They share a long embrace and a kiss before he has to go on for search of disguise and make a new identity for himself. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of the movie.

All of this just reinforces at least to me that the idea of religion, nation and state are partly if not fully responsible for racism to exist with companies co-opting with them for their own personal gain. To embellish my argument, I present a quora thread . And before anybody objects, I am aware that quite a few personalities alleged behavior doesn’t have enough citations looking from Wikipedia’s NPOV .

There is though another site which covers racism of all sorts with a slight satirical wit, for instance just today’s article . The reason for satire being not far-fetched as can be seen in couple of more mainstream articles such as Foreign hand in Sangh and the same happening across the border as well. From these articles it is evident that the same/similar forces are at work here which are elsewhere.

While I do hope for a Star Trek meritorious liberation model, am highly aware that presently the forces are quite strong. I do believe that the moment I think I’m better than a or b I might be falling into the same trap while at the same time by not speaking about what is happening around me, am also falling into the same trap.

Hence quite a bit of thanks to Russel to be able to get these thoughts off my chest.

5 thoughts on “We are all racists

  1. @Hermógenes Oliveira , satanluimm thank you for the comments. I think what the movie beautifully portrayed and what I have read and heard either from J. Krishnamurti or Osho is that all religions are same and make the same mistakes. Osho went on to make Sanyasins which from what I saw seemed a bit of baptism and bits taken from other religions as well. Both the masters believed that religion and even studying killed curiosity.

    I do remember hearing one of Osho’s commentaries on the subject of religion where he had shared that people should try all religions one at a time or even have days, So you could be a hindu for say 3 days, a muslim for the next 3 days and maybe a jew or a parsi on a sunday. I do remember trying to figure it out on the web and what was interesting is there was a huge backlash (probably Osho expected that as he seemed to be a clever individual) with all the religions denouncing him and quite a bunch of conservative Indians also left the Ashram.

    In one of his other commentaries which I was able to hear due to a friend, to be fully free is a lifetime process which also hits the mark quite well.

    I do hope we have more Krishnamurthi’s and Osho’s ‘troublemakers’ who refuse to be slotted into categories other than just ‘homo sapiens’ because at the end that’s just what we are.

  2. Hi, Shirish.

    The movie you mention is most likely “The Man from Earth” (2007) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_from_Earth).


    With respect to the article you linked about Jesus’ appearance, the author says that “there is no physical description of him [Jesus] in the Bible”. Well, according to some Christian interpretations, this is not completely accurate.

    Many Protestants, those who traditionally eschew any kind of iconography (paintings, skulptures and etc.), interpret Isaiah 53:2-3 as a description of the Messiah, AKA Jesus, for the Christians. There he is described as an ugly person, since “there was no beauty in him”, and, in fact, depending on the translation, a person so ugly that people would turn their eyes away, when faced with him. This description, of course, can be interpreted both in a more physical or in a more metaphorical sense. However, there is indeed no descriptions with regard to his skin color, altough most Christian are aware that he was a Jew living in the Middle East around two thousand years ago, so his skin and eyes were certainly dark.

  3. Thanks for sharing. Your statement about how racism likely comes as a result of religion reminds me of the late Christopher Hitchens. His excellent book ‘God is not great’ dedicates a chapter to that very topic. I recommend giving it a read.

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