#BlackLivesMatter – this is a powerful hashtag. It got me thinking! I grew up a #Brown South Indian kid in the fairer Northern part of India. No, I didn’t face any heavy racism where opportunities were denied. But wait, I do remember my early exposure to it as a kid when for the first time, I had been chosen as a young school representative for the organising committee for an inter-school debate competition and the teacher in the final selection panel had sent me back, crying! She had told me out loud that she had wanted someone more – #presentable. That was the first time I was told that I didn’t fit a role, because of my looks!
Even much earlier, like in primary school days – I remember it to come in forms where for the Christmas tableau it was our most fairest friend who got to play the Angel Gabriel’s role. Kids like me were the shepherd folk.
What made it sadder was that this was the unsaid rule. Nobody questioned it. You just knew your place because of brands like #FairandLovely and the ads they showed. A fairer girl bagged the job, got a better marriage proposal, had a better life! Such an impact on the #subconsciousmind of a growing up four to nine year old.
As a kid I used to throw a tantrum at home if my dad would not buy a big tube of the fairness cream for me during the monthly grocery shopping. I have used hundreds of its tubes growing up, week after week after week trying it’s #fairnessmeter to see if I had gotten any fairer. It didn’t work ofcourse!
But for me however the good people in my life far outweighed the nasty ones. They kept on pushing me to grow out of these inhibitions, to keep on striving hard and to fight the good fight. They told me that the world that was only skin deep wasn’t the only reality. That most of humanity is better than this, that I too played a role in bringing this message out to the world.
Thanks to them, I kept on striving and today I believe that maybe when I pull out my car and head to the office in a suit, maybe a brown kid looks up to me and thinks, no matter what the ads (that still airs in other varied forms) say – “if she can do it, I can do it too!” If even one kid thinks that and pushes on – I would have played my part!