IF I HADN’T RUN OUT OF TIME

People might well ask that in my 21 years on earth what did I stand for and if there had been more sand in the hourglass what would I have done about it. I cannot really say what I would have achieved but I would have definitely done something.

 

Against colour prejudice. That hurtfulness is something I  never understood and it would make me very angry.

My mom had an inherent fear of dark skinned people.She was brought up with a very narrow perspective to life and I worked very hard to open her eyes to accepting all of humanity as equal.I tended to favour the shows by African- Americans ,when she questioned this preference,I told her they were the most talented people on earth,whether in Sports,Music or any other Art.When I was still in doubt of her total acceptance I would tell her “Mom if you continue with this I shall give you dark skinned children”This made my mom feel the pain I was feeling for this prejudice and she understood that skin color is simply a social construct.

 

From the need to see western visuals, as upmarket, to this famous producer and who said that is what the people want, they like to see white women and so, we give them what they want. To quote:

“Everyone wants to be fair and lovely.”

 

Not so long ago in the murky history of the IPL some dark skinned girls were disinvited from jumping up and down on the boundary stage because the spectators (who ostensibly had come to watch cricket) felt cheated. After all, if we wish to see a woman leap about the place let her at least be white.

 

But where this packaging reaches its giddiest limit is in advertising Indian products to Indian buyers through the prejudicial prism of ethnic whitewashing. You would think all babies are white in India. You would also be led to believe that electronics and top of the line transportation were somewhat given an extra octane if there was a blonde and blue eyed babe flung into the mix.

Some well known fashion journalist in India once wrote:For a rickshaw-puller who earns $2 a day, seeing a fair-skinned woman is an escape, a fantasy.”

Just reading it makes one cringe. I cringed big time.

In a country where my grandparents suffered colonization and dismemberment from their home-land,why do we still worship fair skin?From Bollywood movies to job interviews in the real world,to getting a part in the school or college drama,function or any occasion fair skin wins.All for Fair and Lovely.

Identifying with white (you can read fair) people is still a major Indian sport.

 

The youth of India absorb what they are fed. If you keep giving a lion peanuts he will become a monkey. So, if there are enclaves of young men and women in urban India who believe in this myth and spend their lives like bizarre versions of Lady Macbeth wiping out the damn spots of melanin and seeking sanctuary in a future existence enhanced by a lightening of skin tones, then their sad and sorry priorities are nourished by a visual diet that underscores this perception

 

The self-deception by the retail market and the constant assault on individual self respect have created a complex. They have won and thousands of men and women do believe that white is the way to go. The indoctrination is complete. Even intelligent, successful Indians are fully paid subscribers to this cause. Film stars and celebrities sell skin fair gunk without any qualms. They allow their skin tones to be photo-shopped. Camera lighting is positioned to soften their colour’s intensity. Even those dance sequences are shot so that there is one very dark person who acts as a foil to accentuate the ‘fairness’ of the hero or heroine.

 

In the Malls fasion houses  place Indian clothes on white or ivory mannequins by the dozens. They have blue eyes and blonde hair.

 

Just try to observe an average Indian when they see a foreigner.

First would be the constant staring at their skin tone. (Oh my gord! Kitna gora hai wo!)

Second would be the thought of clicking a photo with him/her. (Premium and exotic class of humanity, they are.)

And render space. None of these would be extended to anyone with a dark skin tone.

 

So it goes on endlessly. The cloned Indian editions of world famous magazines fill their pages with white facsimiles. Commercial films have party scenes where the guests are largely white. Indian writers, by and large, spin books out of the semi-rural quaintness  of Indian traditions to intrigue a western audience.

 

Damn it all, white even rhymes with right. The indoctrination is complete.

 

And it made me very angry and I would flail against this even at a relatively young age. I don’t know what sort of crusade I would have conducted or how I would have rallied public opinion in my favour but I would not have sat silent.

 

 Maybe I would have taken my medical background and brought it to bear on public opinion. And I would have certainly thrown away any tube of skinfair cream.

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