Is it really fair that we tell a girl she doesn’t have a chance at life simply because she isn’t fair?
For all those confused at the above statement, it’s a simple yet powerful statement against the fair skin industry. Now what exactly is the fair skin industry? It’s pretty much the beauty products you see in your supermarkets which eat off the inferiority complexes which people have.
By constantly telling us that our skin isn’t ‘fair’ or ‘white’ enough, the industry has managed to create a division between the ‘fair skinned’ and the ‘dark skinned’ with many in the latter wanting to join the former.In India for example advertisements run day long promising young girls fairer skin in just 7 days ( and men too!)
This racist narrative has created ripples among Indian society (and many other countries as well) with dark skinned girls being seen as inferiors to their fair skinned counterparts, this trend has caught on with men as well and a wide range of creams and beauty products are now available for men to change their complexion as well!
In certain cases, dark skinned girls have been shunned by family and even rejected by suitable grooms! Growing up, terms like kaka (crow) and junglee (a derogatory term for those who belonged to tribal communities) and of course many were even called Africans! Many matrimonial advertisements in newspapers ask only for fair skinned women to apply!
There is a dire need in many countries for products which prey off our insecurities to be completely banned, but as long as society keeps reinforcing the message that dark skinned people aren’t good enough, there will always be a market for these creams.
Now, one could simply argue “why should women even buy these products” or “it’s a choice they make to become fairer” but those who understand the problem will tell you, it’s much more than just simple choice. From the moment you are born with a darker complexion, society starts grumbling about it, women are denied respect and suffer from silly skin colour bases prejudices throughout their lives, the beauty creams act as means to escape this constant glare of society and become more ‘respectable’ or ‘beautiful’ people. This obviously is quite wrong but put in simple terms- many people view these fairness creams a key to get them out of their cages, even if its only temporary.
There however is an historical narrative to this as well, the lines between ‘black’ and ‘white’ were drawn much before. The slave trade, The Apartheid and the Racial Segregation in many countries (which eventually lead to the civil rights movement in the US) and the general oppression of dark skinned people who were seen as primitive and dirty by imperial powers across the world have laid the base for racism to grow over the years.( in Colonial India for example, the parts of the cities where the Europeans lived was called the ‘White Town’ and the parts inhabited by the Indians was known as the ‘Black town’ )
These historical wounds haven’t been cured yet and racism is quite honestly omnipresent.Those who have darker skins have always not just been socially shunned and oppressed but in many cases have been denied economic and even political opportunities. Interracial couples are awarded with judgemental stares and frowns.
In one instance, I happened to hear a woman tell her son, pointing at woman who had a darker complexion than her husband- “wonder what she (the wife) did to deserve such a fair husband”.With the rise of social media, racist comments against people who have darker skins have adorned the walls of facebook and twitter, it almost feels as if the divide between fair and dark skinned people is only going to increase with social media advancing.
There have been many genuine movements throughout history (which many of you would be familiar with) both in the West (focusing on removing discrimination against ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ and in the East (encouraging people to feel comfortable in their own skin colours and removing inferiority complexes largely reaffirmed through European Imperialism). Modern day movements too have focused on various aspects of this racial divide, including economic and political issues which dark skinned people face across the world, in India for example many campaigns have popped up calling for people to stop using fairness creams but somehow our mindsets haven’t changed.
Let us be honest here, no one is born a racist, people are taught to hate another race or they are made to feel inferior because they aren’t a part of a superior race. It’s going to be a long and hard battle for racism to be removed from our societies completely, we need to socially shun and rehabilitate racists and we need to teach our children to start viewing the world much differently than we viewed it. Of course social media websites need to have stricter controls and there needs to be a mass movement against racism and hate, but all this cannot happen as long as all of us start changing our mindsets. We need to educate ourselves on the many incidents where racism has triumphed and we need to start discussing why hate isn’t a solution.
Some may tell you racism has reduced or it isn’t there anymore, but as long as society still divides itself into ‘white’, ‘brown’ and ‘black’, there will always be racism and those with darker skins will always find it hard to embrace the way they look.
Lastly always remember, being dark skinned isn’t a crime, but being a racist is one.
My personal appeal to you all-
If you have children, teach them to be loving and compassionate to all people regardless of how they look. In my opinion, teaching them not to be a racist is as important as teaching them to eat by themselves.
If you have a child who isn’t ‘fair’ according to society’s standard, teach them to embrace their skin colour and to be proud of who they are.
If you feel you need to use fairness creams, trust me they do no good, they may lighten your skin color but they’ll never make you happy.
Let us all take a pledge to boycott fairness creams.
If you have a moral conscience, stop being a racist and realise it’s your heart that matters, not your skin colour.
I end this with a small tribute to Nelson Mandela, I’m posting this on 18th July 2018, the 100th birth anniversary of Madiba.
Madiba was always my hero, I have always had a picture of him in my room and I cried quite a bit when I heard he was no more.It was his message and teachings which has inspired me to fight for good always.
His biggest win wasn’t getting freedom for South Africa or removing The Apartheid but was his forgiving spirit once he was freed from prison. He called for love and unity once South Africa was free and called upon all communities to live together, his message has bound South Africa together in harmony, love and tolerance much after he retired.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”