Even as all of India celebrates Mirabai Chanu’s silver win at the Tokyo Olympics, actor-model Milind Soman’s wife Ankita Konwar has used the attention on the weightlifter to highlight the racism people of North East Indian are subjected to; Chanu hails from the Indian state of Manipur.
In an Instagram post, Konwar wrote about the bias they are often subjected to.
“If you’re from Northeast India, you can become an Indian ONLY when you win a medal for the country. Otherwise we are known as “chinky” “Chinese” “Nepali” or a new addition “corona”. India is not just infested with casteism but racism too. Speaking from my experience,” posted Konwar in a scathing comment, captioning her post with: “Every. Single. Time! .#hypocrites.”
The comments to her post brought out similar stories from people who spoke about their own experiences of racial abuse.
“Totally agree, thanks for sharing this much needed post as your voice can be easily heard. I too am labelled and is still called names or past comments being from northeast,” wrote one user on Instagram.
“It’s really sad and depressing, that despite of having such a diverse culture, we lack basic humanitarian things!” wrote another.
“Absolutely Ma’am even I am an Assamese know this things very well,” wrote a third.
Konwar followed up the post with a video.
“Your disagreement to my lived experience is not going to change the truth. If it makes you uncomfortable look the other way like you always have been,” she posted with Big Deal’s ‘Are You Indian’ playing on loop.
In 2018, Soman, then 52, took everyone by surprise when he announced he was married to Konwar, who was 26. The couple faced much negativity about their relationship and the age gap, prompting Konwar to address it on social media.
When Instagram user asked Konwar: “How did you tackle/ manage this Indian stereotype of “I don’t marry an older man?” Konwar shared the post on her Instagram story, answering, “Anything that’s not common in a society, people usually like to talk about it. It’s not just limited to India. We as a species have the tendency to get weird about the unknown, the unexpected, AKA fear. A survival skill. Sometimes, we are not conscious enough to distinguish between the utility and waste of that skill. I have always done what makes me happy.”