I recently read an article about a black woman living in Switzerland who love Bollywood movies so much that when she discovered that some of her favorite film stars were available for an autograph event, she rushed to attend. But when she arrived in the long line with other fans, she got a very disheartening wake up call. Fabienne Menoud, a 26-year woman of Haitian decent, wrote this open letter:
I am a girl from Haiti and have been a fan of Bollywood since I was 14 years old. I discovered Bollywood through my lessons at school and with the movie Bend it like Beckam. I am now 26 and my passion for Bollywood has only increased with time.
If I decided to write an open letter today, it is to point out the challenges in being a Bollywood fan of another ethnicity.
I have at least 100 CDs of Indian movies, several Hindi learning books and some on Indian culture and travelling to India. I also convinced my mother to add three Indian channels in our TV box because of my love for Bollywood movies and Koffee with Karan.
However, I am sad to say that it is not easy for me to be a Bollywood fan. I had many bad experiences where people did not take my love for Bollywood seriously because of my ethnicity and color.
For instance, when a famous star was shooting for the pilot of her show abroad, I went to meet her along with my cousin. We were the only black people in the line. A guy from her team came to us and began questioning us. He asked how we know of the star! I was shocked as he did not believe that we are genuine fans of hers.
Another time, I went to IIFA, Madrid and was attending a presscon on behalf of a French media where I was working. A lady looked at me in a strange way and began questioning me. Though I explained I am from the media, she gave me queer looks. At the end of the presscon when I asked a couple of celebrities for pictures, they just walked away. I was shocked and wondered why it happened!
During the media interviews at IIFA, each celeb was in a room were media could interview them for a few moments. Imagine my shock when the bodyguard let everyone enter except me. People behaved strangely all through the event. They would look at me, laugh at me and some kid even tried to kick me.
My friend and I were the only two black people there and we felt terrible being left out like that.
When I went to watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil recently, people were staring at me like I was an animal!
See, there are no rules about who should love what! My passion is India, I love listening to Bollywood songs. I love Deepika Padukone and have a t-shirt of her. I love Indian food, I’m learning Hindi and I’m black, Haitian and proud!
You should be proud that people like me like your country, your culture, your industry. That we want to meet you to tell you that we love you! Do not look at us in a weird way just because of our skin color.
We are in 2017 and even if you think that only Indians are Bollywood fans, you’re wrong!
For their part, many Indian outlets featured her letter to call attention to their community’s own prejudice against other minorities. Some of the comments from Indian people are worth highlighting:
While we’re talking about this young lady’s film preference, it’s not a stretch to imagine that she also has a romantic affinity for Indian men. And as many black women mistakingly assume that dating other minorities might be “easier,” the fact is that other ethnicities have their own prejudices and bigotry. As always, it’s best to keep your options open to ALL men, otherwise exclusive minority dating my be like finding Trina Turk at Ross Dress for Less. You might find it, but you’ll have to sift through a lot of mess first.
Pssst! Have you checked out the first-of-it’s-kind video series we produced, The Pros and Cons of Dating Asian Men? Click here!