A general search in the net on being inspired from Steve Biko’s exchange with a judge in “Cry Freedom” regarding (in)accuracy of the categorization “Blacks” and “Whites”, gave me some interesting results. Discussion groups were the most innovative. One guy even recounted his colour transition from season to season based on Pantone Colour Chart. The most interesting was this paper by one Dr. Roman Meinhold titled “Black and White: Symbolical Implications of an Aesthetical Polarization”. After a lengthy discussion on the topic, he concludes by rejecting the entire system which “inaccurately signifies a human being by colour”. Quite interesting.
Till date, I have never had a proper encounter with a discrimination based on colour. It’s quite unusual considering the general prejudice amongst North Indians against South Indians. Probably it’s because I’m more wheatish than dark brown.
In these few years in Delhi I’ve heard quite a lot of Stereotypes. South Indians are Black (Inaccurate term used here too). South Indians are cunning and intelligent. All South Indians wear lungi at home. It goes on. Most of the Bollywood movies in one way or the other assists in the proliferation of this image. One often finds the lungi clad Madrasi (The general term for anyone from any of the four South Indian states), having Nariel Chutney and speaking Hindi in that common weird accent that’s more of a Bollywood innovation than a genuine regional accent. At times, even creative geniuses like Amir Khan can’t help himself from doing it. The smartass “Chatur Ramalingam” who speaks broken Hindi in “3 Idiots” depicts nothing other than the uncool nerd South Indian.
Coming back to the colour issue, I’ve often watched the dark skinned Tamilian kid in the place where I stay being taunted by the other kids by calling him ‘Kalu’ (Balackie). After a point in time, even the kid seemed to have got used to it.
In a lighter sense, I think, the best possible way to reduce the degree of resentment that colour based discrimination causes would be to add an entry specifying the technically accurate skin colour of the person in all official documents. So most of the so called whites will be beige, pink, orange, Apricot, Atomic tangerine, Blanched Almond and the list keeps growing if you go by Wikipedia colour list. Blacks would be Bistre, Auburn, Dark Lava and so on. Asians would occupy another chart. So that when they call you a black, you can tell him “Listen Asshole, I am Dark Lava. This card says it. If you wanna call names, do it accurately…”
“Hey you, Dark Lava...”
I think I can live with that.