By Brown n’ Proud:
We all learnt to make the first ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’s with those red-and-black striped pencils. Just like many generations ever since 1958 did before us. Those red-and-black pencils which taught us to write were and are manufactured by the country’s one of the most reputed manufacturers- Hindustan Pencils.
With their Nataraj labelled erasers, sharpeners, scales and pencils, they ensured that we made through school without any qualms, that we learnt how to write, that our stationery supplies were never inadequate.
Yet, while Nataraj and Apsara made sure that our stationery box never felt incomplete and lacking, Hindustan Pencils’ Colourama led to something completely opposite. By labelling their Colourama crayons as ‘red’, ‘white’, ‘blue’, ‘brown’ and ‘skin’, they tried to ensure that in our tender age we did not mistook ‘green’ for ‘blue’ or ‘yellow’ for ‘red’. Yet, their good-natured actions led to something else too.
It ensured…that we never mistook ‘brown’ as ‘skin’ colour.
We, Brown n’ Proud team lost the case in District Forum, Bangalore on failure to prove unfair trade practice on part of Hindustan Pencils. (Read here- The Hindu: Student sues company over ‘racist’ crayon.)
But that doesn’t mean we are convinced that what we have been pursuing is wrong and useless. As absurd as it may have sounded that a nineteen-year-old got offended by label of a crayon, we firmly believe in the idea that we, as children, get indoctrinated through tv shows, fairytales, barbie dolls and for that matter labels of crayons, to start viewing the world and the society with prejudices and biases. ‘Innocence of childhood‘ in our opinion is a misnomer, for even if we are not aware of our actions and thoughts then, we are indeed indoctrinated with societal notions, preferences and biases from very young age.