Colour Part 13 - Apartheid
When God made people, He (or She, dear feminist readers) started in the morning and finished by night. He (or She) made red people early in the morning’s imperfect red light. In the harsh light of day, He (forget it!) made white people; in the darkness of night He made black people. Only in the cool light of the pleasant evening, He made brown people and was proud of His creation. That was the story my English Miss told my class when I was 12. She was a brown Indian.
The Reds, or to be politically correct, Native Americans, have a different myth. In that, God baked clay to make people and while the whites were half-baked, the blacks were burnt. God is happy with the red man, who was correctly cooked.
Which goes to show that each race is proud of its colour, which is how it should be. Only when we think that we are superior, the trouble starts. I read a sci-fi story in which aliens visit us, and we learn that in the universe, black is the most respected colour of skin. That upsets the world’s existing perception of skin colour.
“God is not merely interested in the freedom of brown men, yellow men, red men and black men.He is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
About 3 years ago, I met a British couple at a seaside bar in Pondicherry, India. I had to explain to them that when I visit my grandma in my native village after ages, and she exclaims, “How thin and dark you have become,” she isn’t appreciating my good looks. In India, where most of our people didn’t have enough to eat, a paunch was a symbol of prosperity. And the rich who don’t have to toil in the sun are fair while the poor who have to, are dark. My grandma wouldn’t understand why the whites have to sunbathe and show off their tan to their less fortunate friends. Actually, this tanning business is quite recent. Those days, in the days of Jane Austen and before, classy females kept their skin fair even in Europe.
What Westerners find really funny is how Indian girls use creams to become fair. There are many brands available in India even in this progressive age. And pregnant mothers mix saffron flowers with the milk they drink to have fair babies. Tamil girls apply turmeric paste on their skin to become and appear fairer. Funny, but sad. Where will all the dark beauties go? Abroad maybe. Or slap loads of ugly makeup on their faces. One dark beauty I know, then in her early teens, was okay with her colour but used to complain about her curly hair which was actually looking great. She wanted it straight.
In Goa, when I walked along Calangote Beach with a friend early one morning, I noticed a lot of Indians on the beach. No white people. Then the sun and a lot of foreigners came out. Indians vanished to the cool shades to drink beer. In the evening, the film ran in reverse: sun went down, whites went in and browns came out.
Maybe it’s demand and supply. We have a lot of sun, they don’t. An English lady, visiting India for the first time, told me that what she liked best about India was the sight of sexy, dark and skinny men and the always-there sun. I, the president of the Spoilsport Club of India, told her that their sexiness was due to inadequate food and infinite work under the eternal sun.
My friend, her husband, who is a great photographer, once had an exhibition against apartheid. He had taken b&w pictures of black people and white people and then handcoloured his prints. He coloured the black people white and the white people black. Pictures worth a million words!
I also remember a poster he designed: One vertical half of the poster was black, the other was white. And two words across the poster: APART HIDE, copy furnished by the copywriter, another friend.
He says grey is a neutral colour; it’s neither black nor white and no trouble.
And the point I am making is, natural skin is beautiful in all its colours and don’t tamper with it or use it to cause trouble.
Nature loves all colours, and all we have to do is remain natural.