Shades of prejudice

Every morning between 7 and 8, my seven-year-old daughter, my wife and I browse through newspapers. My daughter, unable to make sense of the entire article, manages to understand a few news stories by reading headlines and looking at the pictures.

During this session we often discuss current topics ranging from sports, arts, entertainment, social, etc. My daughter always attentively listens to the conversations between me and my wife. Being as inquisitive as children her age are, she always has questions on the news items she reads.

There was one time when she seemed very confused and asked about the racism controversy in Australia and then the ill-treatment of people of African origin in India. In her little seven-year-old mind she has become conscious of her not-so-fair complexion and that has led to a bit of inferiority complex at school. The jury is still out on whether white Australians are racist, but why criticise them when our own society, made largely of people with brown complexion, prefers people with the lighter shade of brown? Most south Indians are darker than their northern countrymen, so it makes the scene ridiculous when some of us pass racist comments based on colour against people of African origin.

Some time ago, I read a newspaper article that by the end of the millennium, there will be just one race of beige complexioned people in the entire world due to the mixing of races. I wonder how people would behave in such a world; would some people with a fairer shade of beige still hold onto their superiority complex? Our generation or several generations down the line will not see this. Probably, the hardy Lichens plant sprouted now can see it change by 3000 AD.

Do we not like black people? If so, why? Is it because we’re a lighter shade of black? Then why do we complain when the whites treat us that way? It just doesn’t make sense; it’s a bit like the ragging phenomena in colleges. A batch of students get ragged by their seniors, they scream and shout and complain and weep. When they become seniors, they themselves treat their juniors badly.

Listening to all these arguments my little daughter asked my wife why she was dark while some of her friends were fair?  My wife said, “You’re dark because I am dark.” Snap came the solution from my daughter, “Mama, you apply Fair and Lovely and when you become fair so will I.”

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