Mahesh Shantaram, India
Racism in India: The African Portraits
"Anywhere in the world, it takes a black person to tell us what racism really feels like.
On January 31st, 2016, India woke up to yet another news of a shocking mob attack against a Tanzanian student. This particular one was appalling enough to earn international press and force the nation into a period of soul-searching.
Since the incident, I've been travelling across the country to meet Africans and learn about their experiences. I make portraits as a personal response to give them recognition. "It's as if they don't accept us as human beings" is what I keep hearing amidst all the heartrending stories. "Some of us are from royal families, but here we are treated like shit", one person told me.
I feel passionately for this developing project because it carries such a relevant and urgent message. It is about Africans, but it is just as much about India and its chronic racism problem that has thus far not received enough airtime. A country that aspires to be a superpower is now at the cusp of coming to terms with good old fashioned racism. Through my project, I seek to put Africans as well as the racism they face in the consciousness of the Indian public."