In the U.S., February is Black History Month: giving recognition to the role African Americans played in U.S. history. As much as I appreciate Black History Month, I can’t help but notice the parallels between the concept that started Black History Month and the rising conversation against India’s obsession with fairness (*cue to eye roll*), and it’s actually quite fascinating.
Background of United States: In the United States, chunks of the African population were brought in as slaves and continued to be slaves until the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1915. However, issues with racism continued into the late 1960s and 70s, which sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Due to a different skin color, a whole population of people were treated less than human. AND it is still a major topic today. As a result, the American history books are a whitewashed version solely focusing on white men and their contribution to history and society. I particularly remember learning maybe 3-4 people of African descent in my United States history book, compared to the plethora of White men of European descent. Nevertheless, in an effort to honor the accomplishments of black Americans in history, President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976-which is a small, yet great, effort towards a much larger conversation.
Background of India: This colonial mindset is just as prevalent in India-if not more. Along with the ancient caste system that has been passed down through generations, the British ruling India contributed significantly to the whole “fair skin is better” mindset. Fair skin-a key trait as European descent-is associated with having power, success, and status. Dark skin is the exact opposite: inferior and unsuccessful. Even today, there are still commercials about fairness creams. Honestly, it makes me sick. I refuse to buy any product that says “whitening” on it. Nevertheless, just like the concept of Black History Month, there is quite about of conversation on how this notion should change.
By bringing these two topics to light, one thing is for sure: prejudice based on skin color is an old, colonial concept that has unfortunately been engrained in all of us, and we have to retrain our minds to change our mindset. In fact, in an ideal world, there shouldn’t be a Black History Month because all types of people should be integrated within the history book anyway. However, we are far away from the world, but I’m optimistic that we’re making some progress on it because the conversation is getting louder. There are more conversations standing up against the “fairness” concept or that “white” is the norm of all things. So every little step forward helps.
This month, I encourage all of you to learn a little bit more about what our history books don’t cover: non-white skinned individuals and their contribution to history. It’s amazing what we’ll learn :).
This blog post was a bit outside my usual zone, but it’s definitely I thought to try writing about. So expand your horizons this month.
Until Next Time 🙂