Black and White

Isn’t it incredible that Indians are such racists? Well, maybe not so unbelievable since an entire country was convinced  that they are inferior just because of their skin color and were conquered for so long by the British .

And still there is a LOT that needs to change even now. I find it absolutely infuriating when I hear comments from our generation’s educated people about each other’s skin colour. And I find it especially painful when I see kids making fun of each other’s colors. While I was in Gurgaon, I overheard a 10 or 11 year old boy persistently bugging a slightly duskier girl (who was an American Citizen) about how come she is so dark when she is from the US. “Are you sure you are American? You look like an African..Hahaha “. The girl just rolled her eyes and said “You are such a racist!”. I mean, forget the fact that this boy has no clue about the hundred other ethnicities present in the US, but he was making fun of his friend because of her color. Ugh. The “credit” goes completely to the shallow parents who have shown this young boy that people are defined by their color and not any other “deeper” aspect. Children on their own will never pass judgement on anyone. They accept everyone equally with big hearts. The comments they hear at home mould them to be the kind of person they are.

I have seen that the north and south of India are equally color obsessed. While they look at a fair person in the south like some angel descended from heaven, the dark person in north is looked down upon  – “Why are you roaming around in the sun? Madrasi jaise lagoge”. Tamil movie industry is full of women from the north of India solely because of their skin color! There was a neighbour when we were in Haryana who was very “sympathetic” towards me because apparently my new born baby was dark. How can you judge a new born baby? India is strange – for a country with majority of the population with dark skin, people openly stare in awe at the white-skinned foreigners and openly heckle those with dark skin. Isn’t it pathetic that there have been so many cases of racist attacks of African students by Indians? What are we teaching our kids?

My own mother was brought up in a household where she was constantly taunted for being so dark esp since my grandmother was “fair”. She grew up using tubes and tubes of “Fair and Lovely” and still uses them religiously! And the constant criticism she faced makes her notice the “color” of a person before she looks at anything else. I have grown up hearing her describing people as “fair” or “dark”. Maybe that is why I am doubly sensitive about this topic !

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It really irks me when anyone brings up color in their conversation. People feeling sorry for themselves because they are dark..People feeling proud of their “white” skin. What is in a color?? and What have you done to get your skin color ? It is something you are born with. How does that define you or change who you are as a person? And why give so much importance to it. Do you feel inferior if your nose has spots on it? Do you feel superior if your eyes have long lashes? Do you feel bad about your ears being pointy? Do you judge someone for having short nails? Then why the obsession with color and fairness creams and whitening lotions!

It is not easy to rise up above biases and even harder to bring up your child to be accepting of all. It has to be a conscious decision on your part to not comment on someone’s color / weight etc especially in front of your children. When you point out a dark lady and say “She is so black that you cant see her in the dark..Hahaha”  or when you point at some fair lady saying ” Wow look how fair that lady is! I wish I had that complexion”, you are saying that their color is of utmost importance and that being dark won’t cut it. There has to be a shift in the way you describe people. Once you control your temptation to make fun of others, you can see a visible change in how your child behaves with people of all colors and sizes. Because if your kids become  racists, it will be your fault.

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