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 Blooming Stars

Racism and Casteism in the USA and India

            Racism is illegal in the USA. So is casteism in India. But both flourish in the hearts of people. That laws are passed against racism and casteism do not mean that these spiritual and moral evils have been eradicated from the minds and hearts of people, where these evils stay enthroned and dance their deadly dance of destruction. About a hundred years ago a low caste person could have been bludgeoned to death if he or she crossed the prescribed legal distance of a high caste person. Similarly a black person who violated a certain prescribed law related to race or color could have been shot or lynched, hanged or burnt at stake with no questions asked. A black man looking at a white woman or walking with her could have been seriously injured or ambushed and killed.

            Honor killing of a daughter or sister who violated the unwritten norms of the clan still happens in some parts of India. While fine laws against racism, casteism, sexism, and violations of human rights exist in the books, most of the human minds and hearts all over the world that harbor these evils, stay untouched. Unfortunately, history shows that major religions that should have been forerunners of human rights and that should have consistently, insistently, and forcefully advocated human rights as an essential part of spirituality, have not only miserably failed in the area of human rights but have even actively or passively participated in the violation of human rights. Most persons in all major religions are led by blind and unenlightened leaders or administrators who culpably lack training in spirituality and the morality of human rights.

            Even in this day and age they encourage or passively tolerate rites, rituals, cults, devotions, and practices that are superstitious, discriminatory, and degrading of humans. For instance, women do not have the same rights in Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism. A woman cannot become a priest in Catholic Christianity marked by patriarchy and autocracy. Married priests from Anglican or Episcopalian Churches are brought into the Catholic Church through the back door unbeknownst even to the vast majority of Catholics. A menstruating woman does not have entrance to the Hindu shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala (India). Most of these unaware, blind religious leaders, will be saved, because, the words of Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34)” apply to them too.

            While racism and casteism are the twin peaks of human suffering, folly, and ignorance, where humanity was mercilessly sacrificed, I became aware of the subtle racism, for instance, that is widely prevalent in Kerala. I have known persons talking about the degrees of fairness or blackness of skin color especially in the context of match-making and marriage. A successful, practicing Indian psychiatrist, whom I know in the USA, does not mind, through his own peculiar thinking, in categorizing African Americans (Blacks!), and Indians (Browns!), and Caucasians (Whites!) into grades of racial superiority. Looking into the depth of my own inner being, occasioned by certain realities closer to my own heart, a few years ago.

            I became painfully aware that I myself was emotionally racist while I was intellectually non-racist. In other words, while I was cognitively preaching equality glibly, I had emotional remnants of inequality. To bring our cognition and emotion together, and to integrate our thought and affect with regard to race, caste, religion, and gender is a life-long, gigantic task. I can categorically assert in no uncertain terms that without true integration coming out of this kind of rigorous, relentless, and on-going search for truth, no true spirituality is possible. Certainly, in this endeavor the importance of the Grace of God or the Universal Force of Creation or the Cosmic Energy is never underestimated.


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