One of the darkest chapters in the sphere of Sri Lankan ethnic relations was the widespread anti-Tamil violence that occurred thirty – five years ago during the fourth week of July in 1983. Although the tragic history of post – independence Sri Lanka records that the Tamils of Sri Lanka were subjected to mass –scale mob violence in the years 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, the anti-Tamil violence of July 1983 was the most horrible of them all. It remains etched in memory even after 35 years as “Black July 1983”. I have written about the dark happenings of July 1983 extensively in the past. However I intend re-visiting the events of “Black July” briefly in these columns to denote the 35th anniversary of the terrible pogrom.
When writing about “Black July” one is conscious of the negative connotations in using the colour “black” to describe something bad and evil and the colour white for pure and good. In this age of “political Correctness” these usages have been challenged and debunked as insidious vestiges of racism. Wittingly and unwittingly these usages keep promoting racist stereotypes of colour.Nevertheless it is difficult to adopt such a politically correct stance in the Sri Lankan context as the description “Black July” has pervaded national consciousness. Avoiding such references to Black July would be particularly impossible in writing about the violent events of July 1983.