Sunday, January 15, 2006

Don't know what to make out of this

I read this in one of Naipaul's essays....
In 1957, there was a survey of high-school students of an unsegregated school in Trinidad. The school comprised of adolescents from all races - Black, Indian and White, as one would expect in a multi-racial society like Trinidad. The students were asked about their "expectations and hopes for the future".
Here are a few typical responses from the students.

Black - I would like to be a great man not only in music but also in sociology and economics. In the USA I would like to marry a beautiful actress with plenty of money. I would also like to be famed abroad as one of the world's foremost millionaires.

East-Indian - I will write a book called the Romance of Music and Literature. I will make this book as great as any Shakespeare play; then I'll return to India to endeavour to become a genius in the film industry.

White - I want to live a moderate life, earning a moderate pay, slowly but surely working my way in the law firm, but I don't want to be the Chief-Justice of the Federation or anything like that....Look around. All the other boys must be writing about their ambitions to be famous. They all cannot be, for hope is an elusive thing.


The Black kid is irrational, imprecise and bordering on the insane.

The East Indian is pretty much the same, full of fantasy, and, dare I say, lunacy.

The White Kid is calm, rational and by far, the most pragmatic.

The point to be noted here, is that all these kids grew up in the same society, studied in the same school, and yet the responses seem to suggest that the White Kid inhabited a different planet.
The Essay made me wonder if there is some credence after all to hackneyed colonial stereotypes like the 'phlegmatic Anglo-Saxon' and the 'excitable Asiatic'

Now, Please don't jump to the conclusion that I'm a racist....


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