Wheatish

You’ve heard of black,you’ve heard of white, you’ve probably heard of yellow skin too but ‘wheatish’, I bet that’s one you haven’t heard of .

I remember this term being used for me as a kid, specially as my sister  has light skin the comparison of ‘beauty’ was constant. From growing up as a person believing brown skin is not pretty with the constant feedback from most Indians, the first time  I began to  realise and appreciate my skin colour was when a stranger in Italy asked me where I got my tan. And although we didn’t speak the same language she did manage to convey the ‘colour’ was very nice. 

‘Wheatish’,I think back now , what a ridiculous term!

Indians unfortunately have a complex to anything white and will bend over backwards to oblige a white person. I have witnessed this in shops where all the salesmen suddenly wanted to sell to one white customer and the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves and ,in our school where we had a Dutch student for 1 year, she probably never had such a big fan following in her life before or after our school. This would never have happened to a dark skinned student even if she was a foreigner. 

I remember when one of my friends told me what a great guy my husband is and ‘so fair and good looking’ too. Cy and I still laugh about how an approval was based on his skin color.

We are a nation obsessed by fairness. In India fair=good looking. A car could’ve driven over you face and smashed in all your features but if you are fair, you will pass the test. The evidence of this is in the sale of fairness creams, the marriage ads in the matrimonial column, where a only a fair bride is invited to apply. A trend I have noticed over the last 40 years. 

When one of our’s is attacked racially in a foreign country we cry foul and yet with the recent attacks on the African students, in our own country some of our ministers have made  generalized statements as to the illegal activities undertaken by all the kids.(should’nt he have condemned the acts instead of generalizing ?) It’s so sad and shameful when I hear the foreign kids say they feel unsafe and are generally treated shabbily due to their race. Which many did on the news channels.

When in college I remember my own college mates passing degrading remarks when dark skinned students passed by, in Hindi no less,so they wouldn’t be clobbered by their bigger sized prey. I always thought this so pathetic ,to be mean to another just for their skin color. Once one tall,well built, student (who obviously knew some Hindi)turned around and asked ‘kya bola?, ‘ the bullies were hoping the ground would swallow them by the looks on their faces. That was one punch I would’ve been happy to see . He didn’t deliver, I’m sure because he is a guest in our country and decided against it.

We speak of being highly cultured but what happens to all that culture when we divide and further divide on class and race? Our culture teaches us ‘atithi devo bhava ‘ (guests are like god) and yet when they are black we don’t like them?! Hypocrisy to the hilt! 

As a kid my father always said to us ‘only if you accept your own mistake can you improve on it’. 

After hearing of the Tanzanian students attack and more so of the rickshaw driver spitting on one students face instead to returning his change, the fact that racism is deeply rooted in us is a fact we need to accept,IF ,we intend to change our attitude and tap into the humane side of our culture where we learn to accept all as our equal and respect everyone for their worth as a fellow human! 

  
It’s high time we peeled the fairness mask off our brown faces and made a few corrections in our mindsets. 

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