It is an irrefutable fact that, in 2020, we are still living in a world where people are discriminated against – and sometimes killed – for the color of their skin or their religion.
With #BlackLivesMatter protests taking place all across the world in response to the killings of George Floyd, many people have been vocal in their support for solidarity and helped to expand it beyond the streets of the US and onto the virtual world of social media.
Though many Indian celebs are being called out for lending support to the movement in spite of endorsing fairness/skin-lightening products, there have been many famous Indian personalities who had faced racism and spoke about it too.
Here are 10 such Indian personalities who have shared heartbreaking accounts of racial discrimination.
1- Irrfan Khan
Irrfan Khan who had proved his acting mettle in Bollywood as well as Hollywood was detained twice at the US airports. Once at Los Angeles airport in 2008 and at New York airport in 2009. Speaking about the same on Aap Ki Adalat, the actor said, “It’s humiliating. They don’t even disclose the reason. Actually, I don’t use my surname Khan in films, but in passports, surname and religion are required. I was stopped not once, but several times at airports in the US.”
Like Irrfan, Malayalam megastar Mammooty too was detained at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy airport, US in 2009. However, the superstar took the incident in his stride and didn’t let it affect him. Speaking to Rediff India Abroad, he said, “Every country has its laws and systems. We too have it. We should obey those laws. I did not feel discriminated or harassed when I was questioned at the airport.”
3- Shah Rukh Khan
Believe it or not, but King Khan too had to bear the brunt of racial profiling when he was detained by airport authorities in the US not once or twice, but three times and as recently as 2016. Talking about it, SRK had later tweeted, “I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.”
4- APJ Abdul Kalam
In 2011, Former Indian President late APJ Abdul Kalam was twice subjected to frisking at New York’s JFK Airport with US security officials even taking his jacket and shoes to check for explosives. The incident took place while he was returning home from New York after attending a series of events. The US later apologized saying, “We deeply regret the inconvenience that resulted for him.”
5- Ranveer Singh
Even though Ranveer didn’t specify an incident when he was faced with racism, he recounted some of his bitter experiences, during an interview with Filmfare. He said, “I have had some tough life experiences. It’s not all been rosy. I have been through prolonged intense and immense emotional turbulence, financial difficulties… I have been ridiculed, faced racism and humiliation.”
6- Priyanka Chopra
PeeCee recounted some of her unpleasant experiences with racism during her high school days in Massachusetts, Iowa, and New York City, during an interview with the Associated Press. She told, “I was treated differently because I’m brown. I had, you know, really racist behavior when I was in high school in 10th grade. I was called ‘Brownie,’ ‘Curry,’ (told to) ‘go back on the elephant you came on,’ and that really affected me when I was a kid and affected my self-esteem.”
7- George Fernandes
Former Indian Defence Minister late George Fernandes was twice strip-searched at Washington airport while on official business in 2002 and 2003. Although upset over this breach of diplomatic protocol, Mr. Fernandes didn’t make any official statement about it until former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott’s book Engaging India — Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb misrepresented the incident, to which Mr. Fernandes had said, “The book calls it a strip search but this was no strip show like the phrase implies.”
8- Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa became the victim of racism, on the reality TV show, Big Brother, in 2007. She was mocked fellow housemates, Jo O’Meara, Danielle Lloyd and Jade Goody for her Indian accent and was called, “The Indian” and even, a “dog”. Recently in 2018, she again took to social media to talk about an alleged racist behavior she experienced at the Sydney airport for “being brown”.
9- Aamir Khan
In 2002, Aamir Khan was asked to stop at the Chicago airport for interrogation. Things went really serious when he was not only detained but also strip-searched before finally being allowed to board his flight.
10- Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor has also spoken about having faced racism. Back in 2016, at the ‘Women of Worth’ event, Sonam said, “Racism exists all over the world, it is not specific to India… It’s something that is spread across the globe. I don’t believe when people say only Indians are like that. I have faced racism in the world all over.”