Black- destitute of light; devoid of colour; enveloped in darkness, hence utterly dismal or gloomy; as the future looked black; soiled with dirt; foul; sullen; hostile; foully or outrageously wicked; as black cruelty; indicating disgrace, dishonour or…
White- colour of pure snow; reflecting all the rays of spectrum; opposite of black; free from spot or blemish; innocent; pure; without evil intent; harmless; honest; square-dealing; honourable…
We have not made up these statements. No. We have copied them from the famous scene of Malcolm X (1992) where young Malcolm, during his time in prison is made to read the definitions of these two words as written in a dictionary. What we wonder is, how much are these definitions of two words, still valid in the land of 1.2billion+ shades of brown.
We do not write this piece to lament how our manufacturers are exploiting us, advertisers not caring enough, discuss Miss America or Bollywood being extremely insensitive with ‘tere gore gore gaal..’. Nor do we intend to debate the origins of rangbhed in our country-is it the British to be blamed or our 5000+ years of glorious history which has forever glorified the fairer skin. (Remember ‘radha kyun gori main kyun kaala’?)
We write this piece just to state a simple fact- You are dark. Accept it. Embrace it. And be proud of it.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Arunachal to Gujarat, we come in all kinds of shades available. Yet only the lighter skin gets prized and is seen as the ideal. We do not question ‘why’, because it is our own mind-set to be blamed, but we are here to wonder why and how have we, the darker ones (referring to everyone, even if lighter than Caucasians) have come to accept it unconsciously and feel embarrassed to embrace our own natural colour, let alone take pride in it.
Sceptics as always raise eyebrows whenever we try to discuss colour. When we say- Brown n’ Proud, they ask- What’s next? Bald n’ Proud? Big Belly n’ Proud? Small boobs n’ Proud? They wonder what fun we get out of making an issue where there is none. That whether a small harmless crayon really caused us ‘emotional trauma’ or was it just an attempt to get publicity?
The problem, which our sceptics sadly fail to realise, is colour in our society is not just skin deep. The quantity of melanin affects our lives throughout. True, you do not lynch one for being brown, but do remember whenever you are praising a girl’s beauty for being so fair, at the same time you perhaps are destroying the confidence of her best friend, standing in her shadow, for being too dark.Â This confidence is then again shattered when one looks for a bride for their beloved son who has to be fair-skinned, in presence of his darker sister. Or when actresses whom you once considered your role-model, succeed in the industry only when they start bleaching their skin.
Is this ‘confidence’ thing that important? Don’t we have issues of poverty, illiteracy, starvation etc. to look out for? Then why do we need another issue to be made out in this maddening country?
We will say it frankly- Yes, it is important. Yes, when absent, it does become an issue. And yes, we are going to continue working on this issue of rangbhed until the day fairness cream manufacturers run out of business- not due to legal action, but due to lack of demand from even a single consumer in this billion plus market.
The problem of colour, per se, may not have been that grave. It is after all just another personal marker like height, weight, hair etc. right? It becomes a problem due to geographical factor involved. Had Europe and the west also had as much diversity of colour, then colour wouldn’t have become an identity marker. But when we prize the achievements or beauty of our brown brothers/sisters in the land of whites as something surreal, at the same time belittling them or mocking them back home, it does become a problem. This privileging of anything European and by the whites, becomes a huge problem, as this Eurocentric mind-set linked to seeing our own colour in inferior light-a national shame if nothing less.
How after all do you expect to call yourself a superpower one day, when your own countrymen lack the confidence to walk tall, shoulder-to-shoulder with the world? Economically and militarily you may even surpass the Chinese one fateful day, but your mind shall remain a slave of Britishers as long as Fair&Lovely continues to exist on the shelves.
This is what we intend to end, and this is our goal- to let world know it is time they recognise the beauty of dark skin and to get rid of inferiority complex amongst our own brethren. To proclaim that yes we are dark, and that yes we are as much good.
Because Brown n’ Proud isn’t just a movement, a drive or a campaign. It is the awaaz of the people who believe all colours are equal, who are against rangbhed and who are proud of the skin tone they are in. Is it not your awaaz too? If it is, then don’t let it be a low squeak. Join Brown n’ Proud, scream it out loud and be part of the change you have always wished for.