How empowering was it to watch Indians hold the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” placard in one hand supporting the protests in the United States and with the other hand applying a cream of poisonous chemicals to their naturally gifted skin. In this black and white world why do we hate brown? From the soil that gives birth to plants to the earthen pots which store our precious waters to the wood that burns into the flames of tomorrow’s ashes -brown is everywhere.
“Beta dhoop me mat khelo, tan ho jaaoge!”, yells the Indian parent while some family in the Europe takes their sons and daughters to play on the beach and get some tan. A land that prays Lord Krishna who is described to be as dark as the thunderous rain clouds and yet portrays him blue because anything is better than black anything is better than brown anything is better than dark.
Etymologically speaking, the Sanskrit word ‘Krishna’ means black or dark. At times, it is also translated as “all attractive”. According to Vedas, Lord Krishna is a dark-skinned God. Even in traditional patta chitras (cloth art) in Odisha, Lord Krishna and Vishnu are always shown having black skin.
50,000 years ago when our ancestors migrated from the North to the African and Asian continents, they were exposed to the UV rays of the Sun which is saturated at the equator and the tropic of Capricorn. Those days’ sunscreens were not invented hence due to evolution and the wonderful science of human body’s biology it produced melanin under the skin which acted as a natural sun screen. Skin creating its own protective layers, how cool is that?
But we as Indians would rather prefer skin burns and skin cancers than having a healthy skin. When my mother read the matrimony classified newspapers for my elder sibling’s marriage, her face falls down as she looks at those advertisements. No no-hold your horses, it’s not what you are thinking, everybody is progressive nowadays, nobody is asking for dowry. All they ask is – “seeking a fair bride for my son”, “fair and handsome boy with a fit body”, “girl should be white toned and open minded”, “boy should not be dark and not restrict our daughter from wearing her choice of clothing.” (no dowry).
To parents who are afraid because – log kya kahenge? Maa lets not look for brides or grooms who are fair, let’s look for individuals who treat people fairly. Let’s not buy besan (gram flour) for face masks rather let’s lather some potatoes in them and fry it in oil as we watch the fair besan turn into a beautiful crispy brown tasty pakodas (fritters). Fairness creams or home remedies for instant glow neither teach us to be a human with a clean heart, a heart free from the ignorance. Instead of handing a tube of glow and lovely to your loved one’s let’s make them stand in front of the mirror holding their head high because any shade is beautiful any shape is beautiful any scar is beautiful. Before teaching to love others let’s start by loving ourselves. It’s time we realise love comes in all shapes and shades, it’s time we loved all shapes and shades.
Forget snow white, I’m chocolate brown, I will write my own fairy-tale. A tale of every brown Indian girl and boy who is torn apart by the expectations of society and yet stands proud with a personality and smile beautiful than any white skinned magazine covers. To every Bollywood song that calls the actress “Gori” I would like to say – “Gore Rang Pe Na itna Gumaan kar. Gora Rang Do Din mein Dhal Jaayega” – don’t show such pride of your fair skin, the fairness will fade in time. What will remain is the virtues, beliefs, kindness and opinions .
Changing the name from fair to glow will not enlighten the young minds but it will give light to the years of colourism and discrimination to continue its course in every generation to come. Brown is beautiful and so is every colour ever discovered.