This is one of my pet peeves. Even, from the time I was born.
The other day, one of my kids looked at the other one and said, “I am not going to talk to you anymore. You are browner than anyone else.” My first reaction to this statement was shock. Because, we’ve never spoken colour at home. Although I knew this would come up some day; but at four, I never believed this would happen.
To introduce my kids to you, I have twins – a boy and a girl. From the moment they were born, I knew for sure that someday the colour comparison would spring up. It isn’t that either of them are extremes. But, with kids of the same age, comparison is bound to happen. “See… She has finished her food. Why are you still fiddling with it?” “He is so friendly with dogs, but she isn’t!” These are sentences that we as parents normally use. Yes… There are times when we sit down to think back about this comparison but then, we set it aside ‘cos these are way too minor to affect the kids in any way.
But, a colour comparison is big. It’s a prejudice that needs to be nipped in the bud.
I call this big because it could affect your self-esteem. As an adolescent, I’ve gone through this often. Until I reached the maturity to realize that colour is just that – ‘colour’ and nothing more, I had to battle against it with fairness creams and the like. I do not want my child to go through the same thing. But, I also know that the process from denial to acceptance is bound to happen, given the kind of surrounding we live in.
Every television channel has these fairness cream ads playing in a loop. Every big star endorses these brands with such vigour and conviction. That, only if a person is fair can he/she be successful. Every matrimony ad speaks of the requirement of a ‘fair’ girl and a ‘handsome’ boy. Everyone (well… almost) have slowly turned to censoring the word dark; the politically correct term has become wheatish. ‘My daughter has a wheatish complexion; she isn’t that dark obviously!’ From when did ‘dark’ become a bad word? Not even adults realize the truth in this entire fairness business. Sigh.
Once I overcame the ‘shock’ stage of the brown remark made by my kid, I ensured I addressed it. Both with the child as well as the teacher; for I knew for certain that the remark originated from the school. The teacher assured me that the class will be briefed on ‘how colour doesn’t matter to who you are/could become’ with stories.
Then, I began focusing on speaking to my kid(s). Every time, such colourful words came out, I was sure to tell them that no colour is good or bad. ‘Being brown or black or white doesn’t turn you into being good or bad automatically. It is how you behave that makes you good or bad. Even if you are fair but keep hitting someone, then you are bad. If you are brown but share things with others, then you are good. See… The colour of your skin just defines your looks; not you. And, who says brown is bad? You love chocolates, right? What colour are they? Brown. Brown is good. So are white and black and red and green and yellow.’
I wouldn’t have expected for this colour discrimination thing to stop with just one recital of my sermon. It didn’t. I keep repeating this every time the topic comes up. And, I will continue until the kids attain a colour-Zen-state.
Indu is a dreamer by nature; a (former) chartered accountant by profession; and a writer by passion. Her life right now, revolves around her four year old twin boy and girl. The two naughty siblings love to play their pranks on her every day, making her both smile and wince at once. She loves to leave a trail of her life at her blog here.