Saturday, October 8, 2011

The 'Dark' side of Life

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Note: Dedicated to all my bullies who taught me to fight back and all others who has once condemned me on grounds of color.




Dark, wheatish, fair, medium fair, very fair and very very fair – here I am baffled at the racist categorization of the matrimony sites. I am to define myself to a shade which matches to the best of the given colors for a decent pick from a pool of the so called prospective grooms. Knowing well, the ‘dark’ segment will be rejected at the very initial screening, I chose the forbidden option to seal myself in.

Routing back to the ages where it first began, the faintest memory I can conjure is that of being bullied by the mean kids at pre-school. They argued about the existence of various shades of the color black (even if they exist), brown, browner and brownest. I was proved to be ‘deep brown’ after a careful comparison of my faber castell’s with my skin tone. As they left looking out to identify other ‘colored’ kids, it left me furious at myself for having been categorized as a color. And what do you know; I didn’t realize there was more to it ahead in life!

Thanks to an international schooling, growing years weren’t too difficult and I fared reasonably well in the blooming. 26 years later, I gaped at the first racist remark passed by a colleague at an organization I had just joined. I was apparently the least of the good looking candidates who were eligible for the opening. Had it not been for my ‘content’ I would not have been pulled through. The height of irony was that the opening was for a middle management role and little did I know looks were a deciding factor for the same. Let’s just call this phenomenon ‘Lookism’!

This concept has grown deep into the cultural scene of Kerala. Evidenced well by the endless fields of color range options to be filled in matrimony sites, my folks had the first reality check when a prospective groom to be caller called over and demanded his to be bride has to be ‘fair’. Genetics has it that there are 65 color options possible by a single combination of a sperm and ovum. Skin color being a polygenic trait, the same can be influenced by a multitude of genes, which can be passed on either by the recent generations or even the former.

In the US, they call it tan and spend hours in the sun for the sun kissed look. In India, from 14 days, 7 days and even 5 days to fairer skin, competition in the fairness cream segment is soaring high. Light and fair complexion is a sign of spiritual progress and purity according to Upanishads and Vedas. This attraction to fair skin had always been a sign of mental slavery to the Brits and that of colonial mentality. This was the white supremacy which gave way to the divide and rule theory in India and ended up bailing our land in the process.

What does that conclude to? Racism is a double edged sword. The industry reciprocates to the way world perceives a theory. Differentiation is the key word here, people strive to out in a crowd, hence thrives the fairness products and so does a bollywood industry bias.

It was this article which got me thinking and related me to my past - And FYI, I am not crying, I know the world isn’t ‘fair’ and I need to fight it through. I don’t believe in miracles but I do hope someday I land up in a colorless, unbiased world of utopia..

13 comments:

doc said...

"like" . Well written.. Its true.. Such ppl still do exist.. I came across many such ones here n tvl.. as u righly said 'its the content that matters'..agree 100%. A fitting reply as the title says.. And a special mention & like to the 'i know the world isnt "fair"..' #iLike.

doc said...

"like" . Well written.. Its true.. Such ppl still do exist.. I came across many such ones here n tvl.. as u righly said 'its the content that matters'..agree 100%. A fitting reply as the title says.. And a special mention & like to the 'i know the world isnt "fair"..' #iLike.

doc said...

"like" . Well written.. Its true.. Such ppl still do exist.. I came across many such ones here n tvl.. as u righly said 'its the content that matters'..agree 100%. A fitting reply as the title says.. And a special mention & like to the 'i know the world isnt "fair"..' #iLike.

Vishnu said...

Well Written buddy

Alex said...

Well written... :) The "Colored" side of life.

Unknown said...

very well written... and u knw my take on the whole 'fair'-'dark' topic so i wudn't add much... i wud just like to sue all the fairness cream companies and ban those LAME ads....
P.S: U are a wonderful person and tat's all tat matters :)

shenz said...

Sreeja I liked your post. It is very true that this form of implicit racism still drives a huge part of our society. I do not think I have ever learned to like or hate someone because of his / her colour. Apart from learning, what colours will suite what skin colour (you know what I meanJ), my judgments on colour even before all my social work influences, ended there. But now after being chased by matrimonial sites, I too realise how deep this form of racism exists in our so called well educated society.

shenz said...

Sreeja I liked your post. It is very true that this form of implicit racism still drives a huge part of our society. I do not think I have ever learned to like or hate someone because of his / her colour. Apart from learning, what colours will suite what skin colour (you know what I mean :)), my judgments on colour even before all my social work influences, ended there. But now after being chased by matrimonial sites, I too realise how deep this form of racism exists in our so called well educated society.

Anu said...

Very true, the bias exists. And all these ad fads on television confirm our obsession with the skin's color.

Rohit B said...

going back to our myths and holy books, skin color has always been associated with human psyche isn't it. The fairer shades have denoted respectability and purity irrespective of the true nature of the individual, while the darker shades were always considered as an epitome of evil, and social and mental backwardness. No wonder we ended up like this. :) Good writing Sreej.

SREEJA said...

Well, guess I disagree with the fact that darkness epitomises evil as mentioned in the ancient holy books, if that were the case, how come krishna is always described as 'karmukil varnan' , meaning 'one who bears the color of the dark clouds'..Shiva was dark too, check this blog - http://krishnaawareness.blogspot.com/2007/07/black-suffices-all-colors.html

Suraj Raveendran said...

I second Sreeja on this one. Our holy texts don't really mention differentiation of purity based on color or creed, but they use similes quite often. The major caste differentiation happened in Kerala in the late 10 century, dividing people on socio-economic status by a group of Brahmin families to establish themselves as the epitome of the society then. The basis of color separation happened here to imbibe a sense of superiority of the so called "Enlightened" folks. This belief was made stronger with the introduction Roman Catholicism into the region. The Romans held the color belief a little too much and we keralites absorbed more willingly than ever. Over the years, this kind of caste separation lead to the truly wise men like Vivekananda to comment on Kerala being a mental asylum.
What is funny is that, in this day and age, people hold prejudices based on 10th century ideals. What is more appalling is that people use religion as a shield to cover this prejudice.

anjana said...

Rightly said Sreeja. The post reflects your obvious response to one among the thousand prejudices that exist in this land - especially in case of marriage proposals.

Recently heard comments at a neighborhood during the event of a new born at their home.."The baby girl got dad's color. She is not fair as her mom. It would have been ok if the baby was a boy.".

Discrimination based on caste, creed, color, size,gender! It exists with all its evil might. One among the opposition reasons I faced on my decision for higher studies were the unavailability of educated groom in the caste.

Still remember few colleagues who backed out with their proposals asking "Oh Sorry! you're not a Nair/Menon?"

As you said the world is not at all fair. We post such an issue anywhere and find that we'll get abundant support. But 99% of those people wouldn't dare to take a call when they have to.

It takes tremendous guts and a never dying attitude to live the life we have planned for ourselves.