The Colour Business

We as human beings are never satisfies with what we have, in one way it is good to strive for better things, but when it comes to skin colour we will never be satisfied with what we have, at the same time making it a taboo as well as an issue which will never be solved.

As Asians, we have for generations hankered after fair skin. When I was born I had brown skin, my mother took one look at me and asked the nurse to take me away as I was “ugly”. She never came to terms with my looks. I was darker than her, she was fair and better looking. Whatever I went on to achieve in life, didn’t matter I remained the un wanted child.

That was many years ago, but when I see my remaining maternal aunts and other relatives , they are as hooked on fair skin as they ever were. The search for their children’s spouses has the primary criteria; fair skin! I dont understand that Asians on one hand complain of the colonial oppression, that atrocities the British did and still want to emulate their skin colour?

The same goes for our European friends, they all hanker for browner skin, there is a thriving market in tanning lotions, sun beds and other stuff which will turn their skin a shade darker. Even the threat of skin cancer and other dire warnings do not deter a lot of them, you see them out ,oiled and ready to burn themselves in the sun. But there is not a lot of tolerance for brown skinned migrants, it is said colour prejudice is alive and well throughout the western world.

Asians have for centuries used skin lightning products and still do, despite the dire warnings of their side effects. Mercury being one of the ingredient to lighten skin,despites it’s high potential for liver damage.

I remember my mother used to put a thick layer of something called “mercerised wax” on my face, a creme very popular in those days to lighten your skin.

Alas I never attained the complexion my mother wanted me to, somehow our relationship never improved throughout her life, the disappointment she felt when I was born, never did leave her as far as I was concerned.

As we all know skin colour is a simple biological fact, people born in hot countries have more of the darker pigment, which protects them from the harmful rays of the sun they will be exposed to, and the exposer deepens the pigment , the nearer the country is to the equator and hotter, the darker the colour of those who have to face the sun at its highest.

Why and when did it become political I wonder? Now it is almost a taboo, you can not mention or refer to someone with their skin colour. Sometimes it is quite funny.

Few weeks ago I offered to help with the settlement of some refugees in our rea, the person organising it wanted to meet me in person. We arranged to meet at a public place, in a cafe. I got there much before the time and waited for more that an hour , no one came to me.

When I emailed to ask , he said he was there too, but he didn’t see me. Well I live in the part of the country where there are very few people of my skin colour( am quite brown, have no problem saying it nor being referred to as the “brown girl”!), that day I was the only person there, and with a name like mine ,it shouldn’t have been a problem to identify me! Obviously political correctness (or common sense?) prohibited him to identify me .

Hmm, I think it is more than a political issue, it is now bordering into stupidity.

Why should skin colour matter so much , I will never know.


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