I think it's time we stop passing on judgements about colour to the future generation. Let's accept that all shades of black, brown, and white are beautiful, each in their own way

Voices Thursday, June 05, 2014 - 05:30
By Akhila Seetharaman At what age do children become aware that we live in a society steeped in colour hierarchy? At two my daughter told me she didn't like black dogs. I racked my memory for instances where i could have passed on judgements about colour. I thought I hadn't. From the start I'd been careful. I knew my bonny brown baby would have to deal with enough “Fair & Lovely” messaging later in life, so I'd always consciously balanced it out. We told her we loved her and she was perfect the way she was. Until one day she told me that she didn't like a boy because he had dark brown skin. When I pointed out to her that she was brown too, she corrected me, “I'm golden brown ma.” Where did this come from? It disturbed me. And pinched later when my daughter, only four years of age, asked me why she wasn't “light brown” like her cousins. In all sincerity she asked what she needed to do to make her skin lighter to match theirs. Responses along the lines, “It's what's on the inside that counts,” failed to satisfy her. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that she needed more from us, she needed us to “unskew” her perception of skin colour, one that she'd acquired from impressions gathered living in this society. Since then both my husband and I have gone to great lengths to talk about colour with her. We don't say that skin colour doesn't matter. Of course it does. Skin, our largest organ, is wonderful, amazing and essential to our being. We should care about our skin and it is important that we feel good about ourselves as we inhabit it, whatever its colour. Why can't we bring up our children to revel in their colour, the way we teach them to celebrate their many unique features and talents, intelligence, wit, personality, and birthmarks? I think it's time we stop passing on judgements about colour to the future generation. Let's accept that all shades of black, brown, and white are beautiful, each in their own way. Black is bewitching, dark brown is rich chocolate and there are colours of fresh life-giving earth, cinnamon, coffee, caramel, honey and wheat down the spectrum. White has many shades as well, rose-tinted, porcelain, alabaster, cream, among others. Let's explain to our children that degrees of light and dark aren't better or worse, but a celebration of the genetic variety on this planet. I don't know if it is going to work. But I'm sure going to try. When she is not consumed by being the mother of a four-year-old, Akhila Seetharaman is a writer interested in arts and culture. The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.
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