Friday, 30 August 2013
RACISM OR BIGOTRY??!! You would look beautiful, if only you were lighter skinned
For your weekend delight here is another story concerning India but this time told by an Indian lady, click for first story here
I often come across to people as a confident and calm woman until some fellow Indian starts making rude remarks about my skin color. I am perfectly comfortable with my skin tone, but certain attitudes and behaviors can and have caused me pain and frustration.
After years of singing "Jai Hind" songs under the intolerable heat of sun every morning at the school assembly, I realised that my dream is to leave India. Some among many other reasons for this are linked to my skin color: bullying at school, rejected job offers, discrimination at work, mocked by friends, family, random strangers in the street etc. After looking at many matrimonial ads in newspapers in India, I realised that I might not find a husband unless my parents had a huge amount of money to compensate for my skin color, which they did not have. I was 16 when I started working very hard in many hotels around India and supporting my part time studies until one day at the age of 19 "the not so proud Indian that I am" left India with a one way ticket and 200 Euros in my pocket. I had the hardest time of my life after that trying to support myself and complete my education, but to this day I think that Ieaving India was the best decision of my life. I ended up in the beautiful French Riviera, where I am treated fairly and I have to say, I enjoy every minute of it. Here remarks about my skin color include, you look exotic, you have a beautiful tan etc which are so positive that it fills my heart and I often get to a state of disbelief as I never heard such nice things about my skin during the first 19 years of my life in India. The kindest thing an Indian would tell me is how beautiful I would look if I had a fair skin. Pointing out that one thing that is considered an imperfection!
I more or less stopped associating myself with Indians after many of my meetings with them included discussions about skin color. This is my favourite one! A girl says to me " I used to do a lot of outdoor sports until I realised that it is making me darker. I stopped and I became a lot lighter. I used to be as dark as you". The idea of stopping a very healthy habit in favor of not wanting to be as dark as I am seemed ridiculous.
My most recent experience put an end to any efforts I would have made to make new Indian acquaintances. I was very excited during the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco that I was going to an Indian party. I came across this arrogant, rich and famous north Indian guy with a skin condition called Vitiligo. He asked me "Where are you from?". I answered "I am from Kerala". He turned around and joked to his friends "Look at her skin color, where else do you think she is from" in Hindi which is a language I perfectly understand. They all had a laugh at my expense which was the bit that annoyed me and I stormed off. A person with millions who could not find a cure to his skin condition thought it was funny to joke about my dark skin.
I married the love of my life, an Irish man who came up to me on the street one day and said "You are beautiful! I would like to take you out for dinner". Finally, there he is! My husband! I have crossed the hurdle of finding a husband with my dark skin! BUT, my problem doesn't end here! We got married in India and I got so tired of being asked, "How did you find such a fair handsome husband?". Another person said "You are lucky that you won't have dark children like you". The photographer said "You will look darker next to your husband and I'll have to do some work on that". I was too busy at the wedding that I did not pay attention to that comment which resulted in me looking very fair in my wedding photos and it took a while for me to realise that they are my photos. I dread going back to India as many Indians have made me feel that I am not worthy of having my white husband as no one around me remotely saw the mutual attraction between us regardless of the difference in our skin tone.
I do hope that these campaigns work and have a positive impact.
Clearly discrimination exists to a greater or lesser extent all over the world, I acknowledge that I am just focusing on a specific subset, that area in which I have personal experience, racism towards one's own race from within.
Finally, lest there be any doubt, I am indeed fully aware that the world has many equally or more serious issues which I would love to see solved. My choice in addressing this particular issue here is not intended to disrespect or undermine people who are impacted either more severely or by issues of greater ultimate importance. I merely seek to use my voice to discuss an issue which is important and with which I have personal familiarity. I hope that readers can excuse this human limitation as I take time to focus on this particular topic.
Too fat, too thin, too dark, wrong hair, wrong nose, too short, too tall, Will there ever beeen an end to discrimination???!!