Being a cockroach

Attacks on a indistinguished minority usually takes the rhetoric of a cockroach, pigs, rats and termites. These words show the status of this minority in the society and in the minds of the powerful who view them as sub-humans or even less, legitimizing violence against them. the Nazis used Untermensch while the killing fields of Rwanda saw “exterminate all cockroaches” radio broadcasted across the territory.

This tells us something about the oppressed and the fear and status they occupy in the oppressors head. Cockroaches, rats, termites and pigs are all scary and filthy beings. Most people do not want to have a contact with these organisms because of their irrational fear towards them. This means that these organisms hold a certain psychological power over the oppressors which can be used to their advantage.

Imagine a scenario where you are afraid of cockroaches. You hate them, deep inside your mind you want to exterminate them all. You think of nothing but the darkest thoughts for them but here's the catch, you do not see them that often. Your experience of the cockroach is built on slight interactions and group think. They are everywhere, but not around your eyes. You are seething with passive anger as you go with your day, there is no call for exterminating the cockroaches yet though the messaging is loud and clear — the world will be a better place only after all the cockroaches are killed. There is disease outside and crumbling infrastructure. Someone says that the infrastructure is decaying because the people are sick all the time. The causation is made. Then some more, it seeps around. Into politics, into education, into how people behave. Why? The infrastructure is corrupt, dead. It was always for whatever reasons. It can be institutional apathy but who wants to blame oneself for wrongs that can be attributed to someone else? The “infiltrators” start gaining more and more prominence and outcomes someone who connects the dots. It is the vile filth of the termites, cockroaches, pigs and rats that have contributed to this decay, look, we were a glorious civilization all the way back (we have no proofs because the vermin have digested them all!) until these “infiltrators” have come in caused us pain and disease.

These cockroaches are so because they cannot speak their needs. They are reduced in form and shape because they cannot assimilate in this society of humans because their needs are not legitimate in the human sense. When one speaks of these sub-humans (and accepts them), then the delegitimizing is complete. What powers do the cockroaches/vermin have, as the narrative is already prejudiced against them?

The psychological fear that they carry along with them is their biggest power. What they have in unity is what the people on the top fear the most, a tumbling mass of cockroaches and rats gnawing through. Their unision itself is a thing of horror as the narrative of infrastructural loss and disease cannot be forever harangued upon them. There will be repurcusions of course – a strong backlash coupled with violence, but how many of these insects have to be killed before one knows that it is too much? Other worlds start to take notice and the narrative falls flat on its face. The expelling of blood is a natural consequence but the narrative was the bigger enemy – to classify something one doesn't know as evil but one must recognize that they were part of the society very much so and they had particular functions that the people living on top cannot fathom.

This hate can seen through the lenses of poverty, generational discrimination and racism – the images of cockroaches and termites are not something that the cockroaches and termites have given themselves but it is in the eyes of the powerful who choose to disseminate these ideas against the general masses for escaping scrutiny and for their own good. The vilification once instituted cannot be satiated without direct confrontation but it is for every society to decide if such a narrative is necessary in the first place. This is a hierarchial system we all function in and the nature of hierarchy itself is to place things without power so that the powerful can amplify their own presence and give enough space for a mass to flex themselves. The consequence of multiple narratives are upon us but we choose not to learn either because of laziness or shortsightedness. Together, the underlings can constitute a larger terror to be fought against and creating enough doubt in going full on with the institutions of state power.

Changing these narratives would need an open mind. To welcome people inside without letting their terminology be the first filter. To not let politicians makes gambles on entire populace based on a single vote given by you. Knowing that all this has happened before and will happen after but your place in the world should not be on the basis of the same bigotry. Invite for a coffee, reach down and listen. All beings speak the same language as you do, drink some coffee or invite for a beer. One man's cockroach is another man's best friend, repeat not what the powerful say but know that choices are all of yours to make.

#racism #India