My friend has been chronicling stories of people’s experiences with discrimination based on skin color, appearance, and cultural heritage. Though I haven’t been discriminated directly, I’ve seen others treated differently. Here is what I have to say:
The first thing that many people notice about me and use to make assumptions is skin color. The first thing many of you may have noticed in your picture or your friends’ was the skin color — knowingly or unknowingly. Yup; I’m dark skinned or “wheatish” toned. What actual difference does that make? Am I not a person as you? Isn’t personality what matters over skin color? People tend to forget that dark-skinned people can also be beautiful. Luckily, having experienced the best of both societies (American and Indian), I’ve gotten a small idea of how much skin color matters. While in the States, lighter skinned folks, especially teens and young women, strive to get tans wherever they go, from beaches to even lying in front of their driveways. Tanned skin on a white person is seen as healthy and lets the world know that they too have been exposed to sunlight. On the contrary, there is the Indian society where being light-skinned is the goal. A country known for its historic rigid caste system unfortunately still indirectly follows it. Pregnant women strive to give birth to fair children; one common route is mixing saffron (spice that’s believed to lighten the skin pigments) in everything they consume. This may sound crazy to many people, but believe it or not, skin color is that significant to us, Indians. I’ve personally seen parents directly tell their children to hang out with and become friends with other lighter skinned students as lighter-skinned translates to upper class. If they instill this attitude in children at such young ages, then when will this unreasonable assumption change? Once schooling is completed, marriage is the typical next step in many Indian households. Many use online matrimonial sites, where skin color is a top choice criterion for both brides and grooms. Sadly, this has also translated to South Indian being inferior to North Indians as many South Indians, who are Dravidians, are dark-skinned. Many people fail to see that there are dark-skinned North Indians and light-skinned South Indians. One thing we all need to understand is being dark outside does NOT mean they are dark inside! It is all about how we shape our personality and mind.