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You Are Dark Skinned. Accept It. Embrace It. And Be Proud Of It.

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By Apoorva Wadhwa and Chirayu Jain:

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.

skin colour

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. 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.

You must be to comment.
  1. omar

    Excellent post.However, I disagree with the idea of being proud of one’s skin color. One should only be proud of things that they themselves have accomplished. But I can also see your point. When someone has been told from birth that their skin makes them inferior, that person needs something to fight back with. And it’s a start. Once the issues of color, gender, and caste are solved; Mother India will be the superpower she deserves to be.

  2. RK

    Hi. I’m not writing this to hurt anyone’s feelings, but what’s wrong if one wants to use a fairness cream or if someone’s wants to improve their complexion? It’s a personal preference. I don’t see anyone talking about fair skinned people tanning. It’s completely based on self satisfaction. If one is completely influenced with society’s thoughts then that’s their lack of self control. Just like fairness creams there are also skin tanning sprays and cream for light skinned people to enhance their complexion.. I agree that the way things are commercialized are not good, so that can be improved on, but if someone wants to look better, than it’s their choice. We would not a democratic country if we didint have the freedom to choose, unlike North Koreans, who have only 20 hairstyles to choose from.

    1. Chirayu Jain

      The very problem is that you use phrase- ‘improve their complexion’. What the hell do you mean by ‘improve’?

    2. omar

      RK, you seem to associate looking better and improving one’s complexion with lighter skin. That’s your right, of course. But where did your ideal of beauty come from? In a nation of almost a billion people, most of whom are various shades of brown, white skin is prized. Why? How did that happen? More importantly, why do so many people accept that attitude as if it were natural? As for tanning; human skin is supposed to have melanin in it. It’s an evolutionary trait that protects us from UV radiation. Bleaching the skin does nothing for us other than conform to a foreign ideal of beauty.

    3. Tulika Srivastava

      improve your complexion? who told you getting fair is improving ur comlexion?? obviosly,our society I suppose. Yes, we ol have ryt to choose our complexion,hairstyle evrythng but using any beaty product to remove inferiority is harassment.. Most of da pp wnt to get fairer just bcz our socirty gvs more importance to fair color. Moreover, Have you ever seen advertisement of tanning product (saying get tanned and become beautyful)on Indian television?

  3. xyz

    you are telling that being fair is an advantage , people praise them and they are confident unlike darker people , but here i would like to say ;i am a fair person close to british complexion but i am an Indian and even sometimes foreigners confuse my nationality , when i go to south India they don’t ask my state ,they ask my country , now , its not the matter , i would like to describe the darker side of being fair ,which you consider an asset , i used to pray from god to make me dark ,In childhood days ,people would not call me from my name they would call me ;BROWN,GORA,GORKA , i changed different places and hoped ,perhaps here people ll call me from my name , but even teachers would call me GORKA ,and it was really a kind of harassment for me , you won’t believe me , now i am adult so i don’t fear what people say and since i am aware now that being fair is considered good so ,now i don’t feel that bad and people don’t call me by Gorka or brown ya they talk the same name but behind my back, some people ll think he is from foreign , some would think ,i am suffering from albinism , and strangely some would doubt that i apply make up and even lipstick ,Once, in my school , my classmate who was dark used to irritate me by calling me WHITE! , one day i was very angry with him with repeatedly calling me WHITE , I called him BLACK , he organised a meeting of boys and all those boys were very angry ,that i called him , BLACK, now think who is being harassed ?WHITE OR BLACK !Other dark side of being fair , is also dark , so being darker is good and it gives u more confidence than being fair , at least you ll be considered normal ,Even in my important interviews i have been asked about my nationality ,whether ANGLOINDIAN?Its so frustrating to be fair , i would like to be darker in next birth , and yes i always like and have always fell in love with dark girls , i don’t know why? Dark girls attract me like hell!.

    1. Tulika Srivastava

      Wot about those dark skinned ppl whom indian society called sout african,kaluta/kaluti or kali kutia,etc
      over here we are not talking about individual person but considering whole society which loves fair complexion.
      And,I think you should admit it dat you are fair den you deserve to be called gorka as same black ppl also accept dat dey are dark den comments are kaluta kaluti will never bother dem cz it is dr color nd dey should be proud of dat. Every one is unique so be happy with da comments you get cz dat is wot you are…..

    2. Dicksi

      Why do you write “dey”, “dem” and “den” when you mean “they”, “them” and “then”? Do you know how ignorant and uneducated this makes you look?

  4. Rishi

    omar: I don’t I mean anything like that, and I know what melanin is, and what it does, all I’m saying, if fair skinned people can use tanning sprays or get a spray tan, why can’t dark skinned people use fairness creams? And tanning booths are much more harmful than bleaching your skin, you can get so many infections and moles, what not, from those stupid UV lights.

    Chirayu: improving your complexion, it could mean many things, using makeup, getting a spray tan, getting a spa treatment, fairness treatment etc. Somethung more than “natrual beauty” I mean I don’t think having dark spots or blackheads would be a way to “Embrace” skin at all.

    1. omar

      I answered that question about why dark skinned people shouldn’t lighten their skin. You just chose to ignore my point. Once again: bleaching skin removes something necessary and adds nothing of physical value. We agree that people have the right to lighten their skin. But just saying because it makes them feel better or because they want to aren’t good enough reasons for me Where did that idea come from? Why is light skin so popular that dark skin is seen as ugly? And there are ways to tan (relatively) safely. But one reason lighter skin is so susceptible to melanoma is its lack of melanin—the same substance you’re fine with bleaching away for cosmetic reasons.

  5. abc

    what i think is black and white these two colors have always represented darker and the brighter side respectively,it is assumed that black people are ugly and fair are beautiful and this thought is instigated in him since his birth .so what he learns is the same, he weighs every thing in the same way.A child always want appreciation ,if he is criticized for being fair then he want to be dark.i guess this is the reason why companies like fair &lovely are still working flawlessly.

    But the thing is, is it really important?? i agree that this mentality has strengthen the seeds in our mind,but in this fast growing world where we talk about opening our minds to every thought must stop being so narrower .

    The world has moved far away from this weather its black or white if you have the capability then people praise you,appreciate you.when it comes to your personality all that matters is your capabilities.

    I don’t remember if any one have appreciated nelson mandela , indira gandhi,kalpana chawla ,etc have ever talked about their appereance and if anybody has ,then its high time.
    Being the youth of the future, talking on such things is not worth it.we should not even give a thought to it .GROW UP!! its okay if you are dark or fair,there are many great things to give a thought to.

    And the question is it really matters

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