Black and white imagery

Why do pessimistic ideas begin with black blackmail, black mark, black money etc.

With demonetisation, PM Narendra Modi is on a drive to drive away black money. Will he succeed? Indeed, from down the annals of time, there have been people who tend to view other people and events as totally white (or good) or totally black (or bad) with no intermediate nuances. These people are either ‘cut and dried’ optimists or ‘cut and dried’ pessimists, who presume that people are either chivalrous heroes or grotesque villains.

Now, what are the images that flood your mind when you think of black-and-white? Are they the black-and-white movies of yore in which the actors performed poignant, well-crafted family stories of an uncommercialised nature? Or are they black-and-white TVs which were introduced in the Bangalore of the early 1980s where even movies like Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi were a big hit? Or are they black-and-white monochromatic photographs in newspapers which, though devoid of kaleidoscopic  colour, remain attractive because of the way they conveyed intuitive emotions?

Who are the famous people you associate with black and white? Is it Indira Gandhi who, with her streak of white in a shock of black hair, inspired the masses with the ‘garibi hatao’ speeches? Or is it Kate Middleton, who won thousands of fans and admirers when she married Prince William in a pure white but simple and elegant lace gown that contrasted with her flowing black hair, a rare hair colour for Europeans. Or does one think of Michael Jackson who wowed audiences with his ‘moonwalk’ and crooning voice when he used to introduce himself as ‘neither man nor woman, neither black nor white.’

Why do more pessimistic ideas begin with black, like blacklist, blackmail,  black mark, black money and black sheep, whereas to whitewash a person’s reputation means to clear it, to tell a white lie means to tell a harmless lie and the White House is where the highest official of the world lives?

Why do medical students wear white coats with their dangling stethoscopes but lawyers wear dismal brooding black coats? This makes us cast aspersions on their profession as we fear lawyers are adept at making black look like white and vice versa. Why are there more white role models than black ones? Why do we shun dark-complexioned people and remain silent spectators of matrimonial advertisements crying for “fair brides”?

The following incident will change  this faulty perception forever. A five-year-old girl once accompanied her mother to a church wedding. After surveying the lavish scene, the girl asked, “Mummy, why is the bride dressed completely in white?” The mother turned thoughtful and said, “Because today is the happiest day of her life!” Pat came the next question, “If that logic holds good, then why is the groom dressed completely in morbid black?”

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