Wednesday, July 1, 2020


MANY FAIR SKINNED PEOPLE IN INDIA LOOK UPON DARK-SKINNED FELLOW CITIZENS AS "NEGROES" The Black Lives Matter campaign has come up for serious discussion and debate in India and other neighbouring countries where the “fair and lovely” culture among a lot of people has promoted “colour racism” for many, many years. In India it is labelled: “colourism”. The Unilever company, that has a significant presence in India, has come up for severe condemnation over its “Fair and Lovely” products. This “fair skin” phenomenon has promoted deep racism against dark-skinned people, especially the women. One would only have to look at the television stations and the cinema world, both in the North and South of India, and you will find that there are very few dark-skinned women who are TV reporters, presenters or lead actors in serials and movies. The dark-skinned women and men are reduced to roles as gangsters, thugs, maids or cleaners in movies and TV serials. In fact, the attitude of many fair-skinned people is more racist than people in countries where racism was official policy. It seems that this kind of “colour racism” does not attract the attention of the politicians and most of the actors and actresses in the North and South. Only progressive actors and activists have taken up the cause of the people discriminated through “colour racism”. They have established organisations such as “Brown skin matters” to campaigns against the racism that is rife in India and neighbouring countries. One woman activist, Muna Beatty, started an organisation, “Colour Me Right” to expose the “colourism” racism that looks at dark-skinned people as inferior. One progressive television station is the New Delhi-based News Channel, NDTV. It has started a campaign against “colour racism” and has also prohibited “fair and lovely” advertisements on its channel. The activists who have now supported the Black Lives Matter Movement have called on Unilever to abolish all its “fair and lovely” products so that skin racism is eliminated from society in India. During my several trips to India as a journalist in the early 1990s and 2008, I had witnessed several incidents where dark-skinned people were treated with contempt by fair-skinned people. The fair-skinned people see themselves as “whites from Europe”, while the dark-skinned people are referred to as “negroes”. Once during a flight on Air India from Singapore to Chennai in March 1990, there were a few sari-clad air hostesses attending to the passengers. One passenger raised his hand and asked for some assistance. The attitude of the air hostess was brutally hostile and uncaring towards the passenger. Then a few moments later, another passenger called the same air hostess and requested something. The attitude of the air hostess was very polite and she went out of her way to assist the passenger. Noticing this, I asked myself why was her attitude so hostile to the first passenger and polite to the second passenger. Then I noticed that the first passenger was dark-skinned and spoke mainly in the Tamil language. The second passenger was fair-skinned and he spoke in English. This stirred something in me because I was from a country where racism and discrimination had been part and parcel of our lives. Today in India, many people see the promoters of “fair skin” culture as the most racist in the world. Ends – July 1 2020

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