By Namrata Nadkarni:
She was smart. She was soft spoken. She was kind. Most of all, she was simple. She was like any other child in the classroom. The only thing that perhaps made her stand out from the rest of the kids was that she was dark-skinned. A little more than many apparently thought appropriate. The kids played around in the recess. Hoping around and playing tag. She was left alone. She stood by the jungle-jim, like a lone spectator, her eight year old eyes echoing the urge to dive into the amusement of the recess chaos. They called her names, picked at her complexion and sniggered as she passed by.
Why I wonder, why is it that something as immaterial as a being’s skin colour should be the reason for discrimination?
From the west to the east and in every part of the world, discrimination on the basis of one’s skin colour is one of the prime reasons for social bigotry. Right from the Apartheid movement to the current day to day discrimination of an individual on the basis of their skin colour is rampant and heard of time and again. Are we this shallow, to let something as irrelevant as skin colour be the reason for social neglect?
The fair skinned folk have always been placed a notch higher in society. Considered to be a class apart and perhaps more elite, they have been honoured with social respect and awe. The dark skinned folk on the other hand have always been (unknowingly perhaps) been considered, well, less elite or exclusive for that matter. A simple scene in a restaurant will make it pretty evident as to how the waiter rushes to a European diner than an Indian one, expecting to receive a fuller tip or just that his instinct pulled him there. Whatever the reason be, he was in fact tempted to serve the fair skinned beings before the darker counterparts, a decision he made not on the basis of their financial status but (pretty evidently) on their looks.
Racism — a perennial social sin heard of every now and then. Ever wondered why is it that after years of human progress and broad mindedness creeping into the social fabric, do we still face racism in the world today? It is because the very seeds of the thought process have been drilled into the minds of individuals from a young age itself. It may not be because such things were directly taught to them or ordered. It is because that’s the way their elders and people around behaved in a manner that pretty much summed up the fact that the fairer lot was a slash better in reputation and social status than the darker ones.
A world that boasts of striving towards equality, I guess we are well of behind when it comes to achieving equality. Let alone on the global level, but are we even close enough to allow an eight year old dark skinned child to reap enjoyment just as much as her fair skinned mates?
After all a tiny bit of extra melanin in one’s body is not going to be contagious now. Is it?