Snobbery with Violence
News article clipping, date unknown, but assumed to be in 1947 the year of Indian’s Independence from the UK. By Marion Carter (my mother) who was 17 in that year. I discovered it in a small book of authographs owned by my mother.
On the dawn of India’s Independence, the Anglo-Indian communities all over the country were busy with trunks and packing cases, and the air was filled with the news, ‘We are going Home’.
‘Home’! Where is our ‘Home’?
Some apparently think it is in England, I wonder what the English think of that. True, we may enter England at will, the same way as any other native of this land and on arrival we shall be received with the same peculiar welcome…the thinly disguised colour bar. (definition: a social system in which black people are denied access to the same rights, opportunities, and facilities as white people.)
Can England be the home of any self-respecting Indian? And what are we, if not Indians? We were born here, our ancestors were born here and neither we nor they have ever seen the shores of England. Yet we are going ‘Home’?
Some of us, of course, well, deserve a bit of our own medicine which will be liberally administered to us at ‘Home’. For generations we considered ourselves superior to other communities, because we could claim to some English blood. Even assuming that all the foreign blood is English, pure certified English. The Lord only knows why this should be assumed and how the Dutch, Portuguese, American and other blood managed to evaporate from our veins, why should that makes us superior and can that make England our ‘Home’?
If by the same token the inhabitants of England with mixed blood decided to go ‘Home’, what a glorious exodus that would be! The Royal Family would scatter to Germany, Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Holland and Spain. The astonished countries of Denmark, France and Italy would be over-run by returning exiles. Typical Englishmen and English-women returning ‘Home’ would become a menace to all Europe and every continent would get is share until only a few poor Celts would remain in the highlands of Scotland and in the hills of Wales. But the natives of England consider themselves English and will not desert in a hysterical flight to strange and foreign shores but will remain English and stay in England where they belong.
Why should we Anglo-Indians consider ourselves closer to a strange country than to the land which nourished almost all our forefathers. Good reasons there are none, but there is an obvious explanation. India is a land of snobbery. Everyone is trying to be ‘superior’ to his neighbours and tries to convince himself that there is something that makes him so. With us it is our mixed blood. It sounds idiotic.
Could there be anything more ridiculous than that a whole race should be ashamed of its own colour? And those who are a shade lighter should look with contempt on the others as their inferiors? What incentive will there be in Indian society for intellectual advance for the betterment of the mind, when what really counts is the colour of the skin? From Europeans we could expect no better, but that a colour bar should develop in India among Indians, is a disgrace to our ancient civilisation.
Those who have no light complexion to boast of, find other ways of establishing their superiority. There are those who are proud of never having done a stroke of work in all their lives. What an asset they are to their country! Some simply can not get over having been born into a high caste and consider it great condescension to be occasionally courteous to anyone a step lower. Some who made or inherited great wealth look down sneeringly on those who are poor and so it goes on.
Indians are busy snubbing while being snubbed. What nonsense it all is, these multitudinous Aristocracies!
The Caste or Parentage Aristocracy, The Much Money Aristocracy, The Idleness and Uselessness Aristocracy, The Mixed Blood Aristocracy, The Government Official Aristocracy, The Light Pigment Aristocracy, etc.
There is a superior and high caste, but not of birth or money or any of these things, but of mental quality. One who is more honest, more tolerant, more kind, more cultured, in the true meaning of the word, is the superior Aristocracy on earth. These Aristocrats can save our country, the other can only lead it to destruction.
Written in 1947 by Marion Carter (de Groot) mother of Michael de Groot. Posted on Medium by Michael in 2018, 71 years later!
Marion was born 23rd August 1930 and deceased 24th February 1996 aged 65. Marion was a heart-disease sufferer for many years. I never heard her speak much of her Anglo-Indian heritage, she was very much the European and embraced everything Dutch and English. And of course after many years in the Netherlands we did and she did eventually come to live in England, something she allegedly resisted against when you read her article. Rest in peace Mama.