I’ve been meaning to write this post since a couple of years now. Why did it take me this long to write something so real? Something that many of us go through probably day to day? Was I too scared of the extra added judgement that already exists in my life? Well, I don’t know and finally, I don’t honestly care.
So, an incident that took place about a couple of years ago. I was a part of a project at work. Working with some customers from my homeland (India). It was a 4 week project with them. And it was 3 people from their end and 2 of us from my company. I know that automotive industry is male oriented and it’s been in minds that way for centuries now. But things are changing, or are they really?
It was me and my colleague, same age, same position. Only difference – he’s not brown. And yes, he’s male. And before I proceed further I’ve worked with this colleague and a friend for a while now and he’s really dear to me. So we get along, sync well and work well.
On the other hand being with 3 men from another company who were visiting us (sorry, our customers working on something). At the end of first day I realised that it’s going to long 4 weeks.
Because whatever I said, made no difference. If they asked something, my colleague was busy, I reply – no reaction. Waited for my colleague to say the same thing. Not being really used to the same reaction, it took few times for my friend to realise what was happening. Following that time, he started saying “The answer is exactly what she just said”. And then they acknowledged with “Oh, is it.”.
It took me a couple of weeks to go each day after working all day with them, a good session in the gym to get over my frustration and getting back home and then feeling okay. By the time I realised and learned how to handle a situation like this, it was time for them to go. Trust me, I haven’t been happier for a project to get over than that one until now!
Why? Because it wasn’t just exhausting, stressful like any other project but for the fact that I had to prove my worth, knowledge, experience to 3 men who didn’t consider a brown women from their country to know any better! And this is a struggle that I am 100% not alone to go through in this or any men oriented industry!
Fast forward few months – I was on a business trip in India. Along with same colleague and it was all going pretty well and as planned. We were invited to a dinner. And went out with them. Like many (n*) times as before, if a non-brown person sits with a group of brown people – he is and will be treated well. No, it’s not about “Athithi devo bhava (God is guest) because in that sense there were more than 1 guest on that table that night. It’s just for the fact we are simply, so used to giving extra attention to any skin lighter than ours.
Fast forward another few months – In Germany, there are some people from my homeland. I thought it would be nice to catch up and invited some of them for dinner outside. Forget getting a reply to that appointment (because somehow I am not the manager, or white, or a man), it was delayed by over a couple of hours. We were joined by another colleague from Germany and went out. To no surprise of mine, the only conversation that took place was between the people who were visiting and German colleague. He is another really nice guy and spoke to me or tried getting me into the conversation from time to time.
Same information given by me about bus transport completely ignored until my colleague hears me and says yes, and when he explains, everyone hears as if it’s not been told a few seconds ago. And I am like – Seriously (?!)!
No, I am not a shy person (if you know me). But I just sat there and wondered – again seriously (?!), is that the kind of privilege we give to people who look lighter than us?
I’m not writing this cribbing about how white privileges exist (even though they do). To all my non-brown friends – if you haven’t noticed it until now, next time, please observe. It’s not your fault. It’s instilled in this world that anything coming out of any person who looks / is in a better position or race is and always has to be right.
I’m writing this from a perspective that it irritates me to no end how people are treated based on their nationality/appearance/colour/and position!
Having being raised by parents who treated each human as a human, I grew up to learn and respect people as and how they are. I would and always will treat the cleaner of a building to CEO exactly the same way. And colour plays whatsoever no role for me in my relation to another human. And I am very proud that my parents raised me and my brother that way.
Why do we always think that someone with better position deserves more respect than someone below?
It’s a very true saying that’s stuck with me since I can remember –
A persons true character is seen by how they treat a person inferior to them.-Unknown
I genuinely believe in this because it’s helped me part my ways with a lot of them who don’t share this vibe.
And I really wish people who don’t do that, realise that some day. Or learn it. And bring back a little more humanity, equality and respect for one another.