Your Skin Like Dawn - Mine Like Musk
Turning a blind eye to constant racism had become such a norm that even when someone treated me as a cypher, I silently ignored it. Some of you may say that being in a foreign country, I am bound to experience some racial bigotry. But my first experience of colourism started before I even understood the term colour, race or prejudice. Yet, despite being aware of the mediocrity and diminishing words used against me, I was silent. I was wrong. Because the truth is all our silences in the face of racist assaults are acts of complicity.
standards for our people. The representation of a country with over 70% of diverse races are portrayed by one colour - white.
Now, when half the world is protesting for Black Lives Matter, I look back to realize that we never opposed the small steps that were taken to diminish darker skinned people. When darker models were not given jobs, when a girl with dark skin would end up unwedded and considered a burden, when actresses underwent skin lightening procedures to feel accepted, when a mother piled on fairer powder on her daughter's face to make her feel prettier. Our silence was part of the prejudice and our actions part of the crime.
We are an accomplice to racism when we look at a black person and stare a little longer. We are a coconspirator of racism when we force our girls to wear makeup to lighten their skin. We are all an accessory to racism when we judge a person’s competence based on their colour.
We live in a society that induce large amounts of stereotypes on Creoles, Tamils, or any Hindus who seem to be too dark for their liking. Despite knowing that we are all in fact just different shades of brown. As long as we are promoting this behaviour, we have no right to be cursing the Americans for racism when it comes from our families, friends, colleagues and sometimes ourselves. As a Mauritian, I have been told ‘I would be prettier if I was fairer’, ‘it is unfortunate that I was not blessed with brighter complexion’, and many discriminatory comments. To think that we have even white-washed our Gods to be Eurocentric symbols of beauty is absurd.
We are all so eager to take part in a western originated protest, that we forget the true implications of our fight. Our anger towards racist Americans are justified but sanctimonious since we are as quick to judge someone based on their skin colour as any foreign racialist we despise. We are eager to post “#BlackLivesMatter” but we will step out of the house once again and fear to become too dark for society to accept us. We will all share supportive comments in favour of those who have faced racism, yet once again we will look at a Creole as though he is dangerous. How do we expect other countries to respect our colour and our identity if we don’t even support one another?
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
It is a shame that years after the fight for freedom from the British Rule, we never managed to abandon the one idea they imbedded so deeply in our souls - that white people are superior. Many of us are willing to do great things to be part of the protests but not many want to do the little things to change the ideology of their people. It begins with us. One small step to educate ourselves, one step to educate the people around us, one step to see everyone as equal. To stand up for someone when they are faced with derogatory words and to help an ignorant person understand why they are wrong. None of us alone can save the nation or the world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.
We can only overcome the fight for equality when we can go a day without judging a Creole on the street, without looking at a Tamil and thinking he is too dark, without wishing to be as fair as an advertised model. There is a long path for our country to walk on before we can unhypocritically support racism protests in another country.
To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try. Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation. Again, to be silent is to be in complicity with this heinous act. I am not compliant to racism. Are you?