Bollywood actress criticised for racist insult against Africans

Bollywood actress criticised for racist insult against Africans

Bollywood actress Rimi Sen has been criticised by journalist and human rights activist Deborah Gabriel and a prominent Bangladeshi-born researcher in the US, for inferring that Africans are ugly.

The Himalayan Times reported that the “wanabee actress” said during an online interview with Nithin Sethi of Glamsham.Com: “I play a sweet and beautiful girl in the film. The best thing that I like about the film is that though it has four heroes, I am the only heroine. Rohit Shetty is amazing as a director. He can make even a black African look pretty.”

Deborah Gabriel is author of Layers of Blackness: Colourism in the African Diaspora, a book which examines colourism – the process of discrimination based on skin tone. She featured in a BBC Asian network documentary on skin bleaching: Beauty and the Bleach. Commenting on the actress’s remarks she said: “This demonstrates that the legacies of the enslavement of African peoples and its dehumanising process and the derogatory theories espoused through scientific racism, still persists in the mindsets of people like Remi.”

Ms Gabriel, a human rights activist is founder and director of Imani Development Ltd, a non-profit organization dedicated to human rights advocacy. It has 16 partner organizations around the world, including Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Four are led by members of the Dalit communities who face caste-based discrimination by upper-caste Hindus such as Rimi.

Horen Tudu, a Bangladeshi born US based researcher who has publicly condemned caste discrimination said: “This is a reflection of the strong anti-African bias of Bollywood but also a larger reflection of the Hindu caste system and perceptions of race in the Indian Sub-continent. I think most of the Indians/Hindus in the UK keep these ideas submerged in their minds but would not have the courage to voice them in a multicultural society like the UK.”

He added: “I have heard stories of African students from the continent studying in India in the 1990’s enduring racist comments and laughter being thrown at them by Hindu students and teachers in class, forcing them to return to Africa early. Deborah Gabriel condemned Rimi’s remark as totally unacceptable:

“On behalf of the global African community I condemn Rimi’s remarks as racist, colourist and an insult to African peoples everywhere. An apology is the very least of the actions that she needs to take to make this right. It is time for Bollywood to clean up its act – where are the dark skinned Dalit Indian actresses? Colourism is rife in Bollywood and caste discrimination is blighting the lives of millions of people in the Indian subcontinent. It is a violation of our human rights to be publicly demeaned this way. I call on human rights activists across the world to demand an unreserved apology.”

Indian radio station radiosargam.com also condemned Rimi. It said: “The respectability of online Bollywood websites once again comes to attention…On behalf of the African people, we here at radiosargam.com, would like Glamsham to apologise for publishing this interview and print a formal retraction.”

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