BENGALURU: Anuranjita Kumar is a human resource professional with over 24 years of experience, which includes stints in Asia, North America and Europe. This also helped her gain knowledge about the cultural dynamics of places around the world. She also has an interest in issues related to cross-border migration, diversity and racism, some of which she explores in Colour Matters. The book comprises shared experiences of many minds as it delves deep into the manifestations of race and its power to influence. Excerpts from the interview:
What was your trigger for writing Colour Matters?
Life is about choices that finally define us. However no one chooses their colour, ethnicity or race. It is a given and the world tends to define us by that irrespective of what lies beneath. Having worked across multiple continents in my career spanning over 24 years, there are several instances, experiences and learnings that have unfolded in my path. There were times I felt elated, another time isolated and then vindicated. As I engaged with friends, mentors and support networks, I found that I was not alone in this journey and there were others who were caught up in the same maze. It led to my quest of sharing these learnings with many out there who may benefit with these experiences. Usually topics like ethnicity and racism have been ignored in daily lives or are uncomfortable to acknowledge, let alone discuss openly, thereby legitimising such behaviour for the oppressor and the oppressed. Further, I have found very few experience sharing of Asians or brown people on this topic. I wanted to make a humble attempt to enable us to at least share thoughts and invite reactions through the book. Colour of the skin offers us a coloured view of the world around us; and it’s important to step outside these biases into the real world out there. You have worked in a variety of senior human resources roles in Asia, North America and Europe during your career.
Could you tell us about your experience as a person of colour in these places?
There were assumptions made when I walked into supermarts, meetings or pushed boundaries of my ambition. Assumptions were made on what I could do or not even before I did anything as people were not familiar with Asian mannerisms. However we should not generalise that all around you are ignorant or tough. I have made many friends of different ethnicities, who helped me out in new countries. These experiences propelled me to look at life differently. There is always a learning and an opportunity to share and embrace the unknown. Often a person’s background, their life’s struggles and goals play a crucial piece in carving out that particular journey. It is these learnings that I’ve tried penning down in the book. I trust that it will in some way offer an insight to others on identifying biases that often go unnoticed, behaviour that needs correction as much as moments when one needs to gather oneself to step above these biases to see the world differently.
Could you walk us through your writing process?
This book for me is very personal. It is about getting my children ready to face the world of colour through regular conversations. My children have a global mindset given they have lived in different countries and are now at the cusp of stepping out of our home into the wide world out there. The process commenced with capturing our conversations, sharing stories of friends, colleagues from multiple countries who volunteered to be a part of this endeavour. I have attempted to validate that through public research. It was free flow process – about emotions and of recollection. At times I stepped out of the writer’s shoes into that of a mentor. At other times, I was hit hard by stories that got me emotionally involved. Writing this book has been an enriching journey.
Have you always seen yourself as a writer?
That’s what I asked myself when I set out to write my first book – Can I have It All? that went on to be a best seller. This one is more about collating my learnings from stories of people I see around me and in ecosystems around me. Now I am figuring a facet that I’ve begun to like – of telling compelling stories. I have always been fascinated by the way the human mind thinks and that is what I want to be in the process of storytelling.
How easy is it to get published? Have you had to modify your books for it to get published?
Publishing a book is about having an idea worth sharing and doing so authentically – it is important for a person to be able to convey that idea how it was meant to be. No content had to be modified. I have attempted to be respectful of individual privacy where appropriate.
Do you think marketing plays a role in the success of books?
‘Marketing’ is important to get the message out there in the right way. However, no one picks up a book merely for the way it has been marketed. In today’s day and age, the crux of the book and its contents are often subjects of multiple debates even before the book reaches someone’s hands. Hence marketing helps us to ensure individuals are aware of the book but an individual will read the book only if they feel the subject of the book is of relevance or interest to them.