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Primary source material – ‘The cold or rather insulting attitude of their white fellow brothers and sisters’ – The Student

Primary source material reproduced from KAMJI, ‘Colour-bar in Theory or in Practice?’, The Student, 1937

On my asking the two Indian students who returned early from the Christmas Revels, held on the 16th of December last, how they had enjoyed the Revels the reply was, ‘It was a waste of time and money and loss of self-respect and prestige.’ On further inquiry I was able to obtain the following account of their visit.

I was told that they were treated almost like untouchables, and although nobody insulted them in words (because they didn’t use any word!) every one looked at them with glances that spoke strongly and sufficiently to any person not thick-skinned. They looked as if they were saying, ‘Why are you here among us?’ or ‘Get away, you darkies.’

Even the high officials of the Students’ Representative Council and some of the enthusiastic members of the S.C.M., who are very laudable in professing their love of all nations, were no less embarrassed by the presence of these two aliens and were equally enthusiastic in inflicting rebuking glances. During their stay of about two hours in the Maximes Hall not a single one of their fellow (?) students spoke a single syllable to them. The only person who spoke to them was a lady – not a student – who very often frequents student dances. All of the persons whom these two victims happened to know fairly well turned their backs to them if they chanced to be standing near them.

When I asked, ‘Why did you bother about other people when you had your own partners to dance with?’ the reply was, ‘When the two girls who agreed to take the advantage of our double tickets noticed the cold or rather insulting attitude of their white fellow brothers and sisters towards their two darker-skinned partners they found it too hard to associate with them (although they did so in the buffet!) and themselves be the objects of segregation, with the result that they pretended that their legs were tired or their heads were aching when we asked for a dance. Curiously enough, all the ailments disappeared when any white person asked for a dance. This was the limit. We never felt so unwelcomed, humiliated and insulted, and so we left the place.’

‘Were there no other coloured persons?’ I asked. ‘Yes, there were two others,’ was the reply. ‘One of them suffered almost the same fate as us, and the other, like Othello, they had made the mistake of raising to such a height that they could not easily get rid of him.’

In desperation I put the question, ‘Whey did you go there?’ There was no reply other than this: ‘We thought it would be good fun, and as it was the end of the term we did not see any harm in going.

‘We must know that we don’t come here for fun but studies, and what difference does it make to us, who have no place to go to in the vacations, whether it is the end of the term or during the term.’

I wrote the above accounts in the hope that some coloured students will be able to profit by the mistakes of their brothers and that the native (Scottish) students will be more careful in professing their love for and extending their love to the coloured students.

  1937  /  1930s  /  Last Updated March 29, 2019 by uncoveredproject  /