We Love Abhay Deol Even More for Reminding India’s “Woke” Celebs #MigrantLivesMatter

Bollywood

We Love Abhay Deol Even More for Reminding India’s “Woke” Celebs #MigrantLivesMatter

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Last week, the US erupted into nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, while in police custody. #BlackLivesMatter re-entered the discourse and some stars in Bollywood felt like they had to chime in. The same celebrities who’ve remained largely mum throughout the migrant crisis unfolding in India for two months now, who did not speak up during the anti-CAA protests, who’ve turned a blind eye while minorities in India have faced discrimination.

The irony of these film stars, speaking up in support of minorities in a country that’s on the other side of the globe was not lost on one member of their fraternity, Abhay Deol.

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Maybe it’s time for these now? Now that “woke” indian celebrities and the middle class stand in solidarity with fighting systemic racism in America, perhaps they’d see how it manifests in their own backyard? America has exported violence to the world, they have made it a more dangerous place, it was but inevitable that it would come back karmically. I’m not saying they deserve it, I’m saying look at the picture in it’s totality. I’m saying support them by calling out the systemic problems in your own country, because they turn out to be one and the same thing. I’m saying follow their lead but not their actions. Create your own actions, your own movement, relevant to your own country. That is what the black lives matter movement is all about! In the larger picture, there is no “us” and “them”. There is not a country that’s real. But a planet in peril. #migrantlivesmatter #minoritylivesmatter #poorlivesmatter Black Lives Matter (find out why not to use the hashtag and still support the movement).

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The actor called out the celebrities who had hopped on to the #BlackLivesMatter bandwagon by reminding them of issues more specific to their own country, posting #MigrantLivesMatter, #MinorityLivesMatter, and #PoorLivesMatter on Instagram. “Maybe it’s time for these now? Now that “woke” Indian celebrities and the middle class stand in solidarity with fighting systemic racism in America, perhaps they’d see how it manifests in their own backyard?” he wrote in the post’s caption.

Deol displayed a sensitivity and awareness of the ground realities that the others lacked, even though their hearts may have been in the right place while supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It’s not the first time he’s come across as having a firm grasp on the underlying discrimination that runs through Indian society – he also called out his colleagues for endorsing fairness creams back in 2017. This time as well, his stand has attracted praise from many corners.

While many would call out the Bollywood celebrities lending their voices to the protests in the US hypocrites for their silence on issues within India, the same charge can clearly not be levelled at Deol. That he chose to raise his voice for communities suffering in India, which is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, even while uncle Dharmendra and cousin Sunny Deol are members of the party is noteworthy.

Twitter of course fell in love with the actor all over again.

Bollywood stars in India are rarely known for taking strong stands on social issues. In Abhay Deol, it’s great to see one who bucks that trend.

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