101 Stories of Racism – Looking at diversity?!.

101 Stories of Racism
Looking at diversity?!

The question if I was a nanny has popped up many times in my life since becoming a mum. My children are half-white but look whiter than my Indian dark brown colour. When children asked me that question, which many did, I would joke about being ‘that bub’s nanny as well as mum’. Of course, it confused them. Some adults glared at me even more. Sometimes, a ‘kind’ adult would routinely inform me “Oh, my little one has never seen a dark-skinned person before.” Never seen ‘one’ in the cities of Australia. Given the colonial and migrant history of Australia it is easy to make assumptions if we looked different to a normalised white, middle-class Australian image.

Recently when our children started school in England a classmate asked, “Why do you have an Indian mother?” My son explained to his classmate that mum and dad met in a university in Australia, fell in love, married and had children – “So, she’s my mum.” Then the classmate: “Do you like having an Indian mum?” My son: “Yes. She’s my mum.” There is never a dull moment in my life.

Interestingly, I have been called a ‘Foreigner’s Nanny’ in India too, by my own country’s people. My partner and children were categorised as foreigners, I was perceived as an underprivileged native, one hired by the white western privilege. Subordination was sanctioned generously whilst western hegemony was ascribed with an easy assumption. One needs to be aware of not only India’s colonial history here but also the effects of globalisation. Western expats serving in the corporate world of big cities like Bangalore would get paid in their own home country’s currency, leading a very affordable, luxurious life. They hire Indian nannies. Or, Indian women ‘accompany’ white men. Suspicion there, suspicion here.

Indians say “Our karma is written on our four head.” No wonder. We humans with our grey matter have that rare intelligence to perceive, believe, assume and judge a person based on colour, race, language, gender, class, caste, ethnicity and nationality.

How about this? Let each one of us think of different other ways of looking at diversity.

Cheers, Vinathe Sharma

Nanny Song No.3

Walking around the zoo
with my love and my cub,
I got myself in a snub.

My love, a white fella.
My cub, a gora bachcha.
We became a topic.
Instant hit.

Pushing the pram,
adjusting bags,
holding an umbrella,
shooting their smiles,
I got a dab.

They stared. Laughed. Giggled.
Pointed a finger.

‘Hey look, foreigner.
With an Indian nanny.
Good for her’.

With sunglasses and jeans,
my short cut hair,
good for a nanny.
Twenty first century, la!

A new person in my home.
Good for me?!

Vinathe Sharma, 2005


101 Stories of Racism – Looking at diversity?!


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