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Indian Brown Paper Bag Test. Colorism in India

If you ever watch any of the Bollywood productions, the thing you will almost never see is a dark skinned Indian. Intra-racism in India is alive and well, and South Indians, who tend to be darker skinned are shunned.

I’m Indian, I’m Dark, And I Don’t Care

I love being an Indian, truly I do. With the country’s powerful history, one of a kind culture and to-die-for food, how could one simply not?

But behind India’s beautiful face, there is a growing disease that our society continually fails to recognize: colorism.

Colorism is a term coined by author Alice Walker, and is defined as a discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone among people of the same racial and/or ethnic group. Also know as internalized racism.

Growing up, I’ve always had dark skin. I, personally, didn’t see anything wrong with it and ― heck, to be honest ― if you ask anyone I knew back then, it was no secret (with my plaid cargo shorts, above ear length hair and buckteeth) that I gave absolutely ZERO flips about how I looked. And to be quite honest, why should I have? I had great friends, saw the glass half full, and went to bed at 9:30 every night. There was nothing in life that could stop me!

LOL and then middle school happened.

As I got older, I really began to start noticing the things people said about my dark complexion. I remember times when the lights would be turned off in a room and people would say “Where’s Aswathi?” or  “Aswathi, smile so we can see you!” Or the times relatives that I hadn’t seen in years would greet me with “Oh my goodness, you’ve gotten so dark!” and then suggest skin bleaching products or face masks for me to use. Yeah, you read that right. Skin bleaching ― it’s actually a thing.

I distinctly remember one specific summer night when, after a church basketball practice, some of us girls had gone out to eat. While enjoying our snow cones, a few girls began looking at their arms and began to complain about how their skin had gotten darker over the summer.  I can clearly recall one girl saying to another, “Just be thankful you don’t look like Aswathi,” followed by another girl saying, “Yeah, no offense, but I’m so happy I don’t look like you.” Everyone laughed, but my blood boiled and my eyes burned. Never have I had to bite my tongue so hard. I couldn’t believe that someone had actually told me they were happy because they didn’t look like me. Those eight words have, to this day, hurt me in unexplainable ways.

That night when I got home, I ran upstairs, closed my door, sat on the ground, and cried. I cried like I had never cried before. Hours and hours had passed and there were still tears running down my face. I didn’t want to live. The words and comments those girls had said to me made me hurt in ways I never knew I could hurt before. The things those girls said to me changed the way I saw myself forever.

None of it was truly mean-spirited. The girls at my church are very kind people. But as Indians, ever since we were young, we are embedded with this false idea and mentality that “to be fair is to be pretty and to be dark is not.” Indian media only further adds onto this fallacy by whitewashing (literally) celebrities and actors, along with advertisements that promote the usage of skin lightening creams and products.

But as a young girl, these comments had really brought me down. All those stupid things people had said hurt me and the adverse effects they had on me while I grew up made me see the world, and myself, in a twisted way that I would never wish for someone else.

spent far too many summers inside and out of the sunlight. There were summers where I didn’t go swimming at all. I constantly tried out many face masks and skin bleaching products. I thought something was wrong with me. I edited pictures of myself to make me look lighter just so I could be pretty. I hated taking pictures at night and avoided wearing bright colors at all costs. There was time when it got so bad that I hated even looking in the mirror or would start crying while getting ready for school. I would even try to physically scratch the dark from my face. Yeah, it was pretty bad.

But then sophomore year came, and I joined the debate club and wrote a speech (with the help of an awesome coach) about colorism and what I went through, and it made me realize a lot of things. It made me realize that I didn’t need to bleach my skin or hide from the sun anymore. It made me realize that I could wear my favorite color, yellow, and still feel awesome. It made me realize that after years of hating myself, I truly was beautiful just the way God had made me.

That silly speech I had wrote made me change my outlook on so much. I joined groups with people who went through similar experiences as me and shared insightful conversation with people all over the world. One guy even offered me a photoshoot! Through debate tournaments, I met other Indian girls who would hug me after rounds, because they knew exactly what I had gone through. (A little side note: that silly speech and I ended up qualifying for state-level ― and even national-level ― competition.)

My experiences have helped me grow as a person and taught me that the only thing I had to change about myself was nothing.

To anyone who has been shamed for having a dark complexion, what I have to say to you is this:

There is nothing wrong with you. Don’t let others words make you ever think that there is. You don’t have to be fair to be pretty. You are absolutely beautiful just the way you are. …Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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2.3 Million Apply for 368 Entry Level Jobs

Under the heading – “You know it’s bad when…”. This one from India.

Indian job ad receives 2.3m applicants

A Indian job advertisement for humble office tea boys and night guards​ has attracted 2.32m applicants, including highly qualified graduates, in a sign of how desperate the swelling millions of young Indians are for job security.

Officials said it would take up to four years to conduct interviews for the 368 junior posts advertised by the Uttar Pradesh state government even if candidates were processed at the rate of 2,000 a day by multiple interview boards.

The unprecedented deluge of applications is the latest confirmation of the grim employment prospects in the poor and densely populated states of north India despite an official national unemployment rate of less than 5 per cent.

Narendra Modi, prime minister, promised to create jobs when he was elected last year at the head of the Bharatiya Janata party. His government has focused on programmes to develop workers’ skills, while party leaders have begged young Indians to become entrepreneurs.

But India is struggling to create employment even for the 12m school leavers entering the workforce each year, let alone for the accumulated backlog of unemployed among the population of 1.3bn.

Economists and investors put much of the blame on India’s highly restrictive labour laws, which discourage private employers from hiring, along with the privileges enjoyed by government employees and the “reservation” system of preferences for lower caste Indians. Fewer than a tenth of India’s 500m workers are employed in the formal sector, and half of those have jobs in government or state-owned companies such as Indian Railways.

Asked about the millions of applications for jobs as night-guards or office “peons” — the helpers who clean up and bring tea to bureaucrats — Surjit Bhalla, chairman of Oxus Investments, said: “Everything you know is wrong with India is personified in that statistic . . . both our labour laws and the fact that in a government job you do nothing and get paid a nice, healthy, fat wage. You can’t be fired. You’re there forever.”

The Uttar Pradesh government said it wanted the peons for the state assembly in Lucknow to be able to ride a bicycle and have at least five years of school education, but among the applicants were 255 with doctorates in subjects such as engineering as well as 200,000 with master’s degrees. Salaries start at about Rs16,000 ($240) per month.

“There are no jobs anywhere,” Alok Chaurasia, who has a degree in electronics and communication engineering, told NDTV television news. “The moment I saw the ad for the peon’s job, I applied. Any work is better than nothing.”

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in News, You Know It's Bad When...

 

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Modern Slavery – Haiti

Slavery exists in Haiti. Worse – not infrequently the children enslaved under restavèk are sold into the child sex trade in the Dominican Republic on the other side of the island.

The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Reports indicate that large numbers of Dominican women and children are subjected to sex trafficking throughout the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the United States. A recent study conducted by the United Nations Population Fund revealed that tens of thousands of Dominican women are presently victims of trafficking worldwide. Additionally, the commercial sexual exploitation of local children by foreign tourists is a problem, particularly in coastal resort areas of the Dominican Republic, with these child sex tourists arriving year-round from the United States, Canada, and European countries.

Haiti’s child slaves land country high on new global slavery index

But many of the 29 million modern day slaves might challenge your concept of who is a slave. It might be an indebted laborer, a victim of human trafficking, or, in the case of Haiti, the child working in the kitchen.

Walk Free Foundation used an expanded definition of slavery to produce what it says is a first-of-its-kind look at the practice in the modern world.

“It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent,” says Nick Grono, CEO the Australia-based foundation that produced the Global Slavery Index 2013, the first of a planned annual publication.

Nearly half of the world’s slaves lives in India. But the index ranked 162 countries according to the percentage of enslaved people in the general population. Western Africa’s Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan had the three highest rates of slavery, respectively, according to the index.

While Mauritania’s 140,000 to 160,000 enslaved people fit more closely with the historical perception of who is a slave, Haiti provides a different face to the practice.

Haiti’s 200,000 to 220,000 enslaved people are mostly children who live with families not their own, working as household servants in the Caribbean country’s complex and long-standing restavèk system.

Under restavèk (a Haitian creole word derived from French meaning “one who stays with”), poor, often

rural, families send their children to live with a family of better means, usually in urban areas. The children are sent with the understanding that the family will clothe, feed, quarter and educate them in exchange for their work.

But inside the homes, “many of these children suffer the cruelest form of neglect – denied food, water, a bed to sleep in, and constant physical and emotional abuse,” the report says.

The group estimates that between 300,000 and 500,000 children are in a similar circumstance, according to information it gathered on the ground. It is unclear why they counted some, but not all, restavèk children as slaves.

In compiling the index, researchers defined slavery as “the possession and control of a person … with the intent of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer, or disposal.”

Some have argued against defining slavery so broadly, based in part on its historic significance.

In The Haitian Times last year, columnist Max Joseph wrote, “For Haitians, or any member of the African Diaspora for that matter, the word ‘slavery’ is distinctively associated with the transatlantic slave trade in which millions of Africans were forcibly uprooted from their villages and sold like domesticated animals in faraway lands.

“The notion of associating the restavèk phenomenon with slavery is a naked attempt at trivializing one of the most grotesque episodes in human history,” Joseph wrote.

In its report, the foundation says it’s important to focus on “hidden” enslaved people, such asrestavèk children.

“Since hidden slaves can’t be counted it is easy to pretend they don’t exist. The Index aims to change that,” Kevin Bales, the lead researcher on the index, said in a statement.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Haiti

 

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“Illegal Immigration”? How the Bengazi Added to Our Cultural Mix Before the Civil Rights Act

One of the biggest lies told you in school is about “America being the land of opportunity for immigrants”. It’s a lie because before 1965 immigration from non-white parts of the world was illegal. Many of the Chinese who came here to work on the Transcontinental Railroad in the 19th Century, were boxed up and shipped back to China as soon as the railroad was finished.

In terms of “non-whiteness” the Irish were only brought here in the 1840’s through 1870’s because they were cheaper than slaves, and made excellent cannon fodder during the Civil War. Black folks and Irish competed, and often worked for and on the same low paying dirty jobs, from digging coal mines, to ditch digging. That competition was sometimes not friendly – as demonstrated in the New York City Draft Riots during the Civil War, and later during the early Labor Union period of the 1900’s. But there is a pretty rich history between the two groups, certainly not all antagonistic.

South Asia was particularly singled out by American Immigration authorities, which is why few South Asians can trace their history in the US back more than 50 years. But some Indians and what would later become Pakistanis did come here nearly 150 years ago. They stayed here, they married, and raised families. A fascinating book (next on my loyal Kindle) uncovers this previously unknown and ignored bit of history…

The Bengazi in Harlem. A group of largely Muslim South Asian immigrants and their African-American and Puerto Rican Wives at a  1952 banquet at New York’s Pakistan League of America.

Bengali Harlem: Author documents a lost history of immigration in America

In the next few weeks, Fatima Shaik, an African-American, Christian woman, will travel “home” from New York to Kolkata, India.

It will be a journey steeped in a history that has remained unknown until the publication last month of a revelatory book by Vivek Bald. And it will be a journey of contemplation as Shaik, 60, meets for the first time ancestors with whom she has little in common.

“I want to go back because I want to find some sort of closure for my family, said Shaik, an author and scholar of the Afro-Creole experience.

That Americans like Shaik, who identify as black, are linked by blood to a people on the Indian subcontinent seems, at first, improbable.

South Asian immigration boomed in this country after the passage of landmark immigration legislation in 1965. But long before that, there were smaller waves of new Americans who hailed from India under the British Empire.

The first group, to which Shaik’s grandfather, Shaik Mohamed Musa, belonged, consisted of peddlers who came to these shores in the 1890s, according to Bald. They sold embroidered silks and cottons and other “exotic” wares from the East on the boardwalks of Asbury Park and Atlantic City, New Jersey. They eventually made their way south to cities like New Orleans and Atlanta and even farther to Central America.

The second wave came in the 1920s and ‘30s. They were seamen, some merchant marines.

Most were Muslim men from what was then the Indian province of Bengal and in many ways, they were the opposite of the stereotype of today’s well-heeled, highly educated South Asians.

South Asian immigration was illegal then – the 1917 Immigration Act barred all idiots, imbeciles, criminals and people from the “Asiatic Barred Zone.”

The Bengalis got off ships with little to their name. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Attack of the Arachnids – Indian Village Overrun By Poisonous Spiders

Wow – this one is like something out of a 80’s horror movie. For reasons unknown, villages in part of India have been swarmed by a previously unknown type of Tarantula…

Mysterious Poisonous Spiders Invade Indian Town

Swarms of never-before-seen spiders descended upon a cultural festival in the northeastern Indian town of Sadiya last month, biting several people and leaving two dead. The arachnid “invasion,” as the Times of India called it, caused a panic among festival-goers who reportedly jostled one another and tripped over benches in an effort to escape the venomous spiders.

A spider suspected to be a new species of tarantula in Tinsukia, Assam state, India, is shown, May 30, 2012. The hairy spiders were first noticed about a month ago across Tinsukia district’s grassy plains and dense jungle forests north of the Brahmaputra River.

Scientists from Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University have not been able to identify the spiders, which resemble tarantulas but may be a new species altogether. Ratul Rajkhowa, a professor of zoology at Cotton College in the city of Guwahati, told the Times that the spiders could be black wishbones, a species native to Southern Australia. If that’s the case, the spiders’ venom would not be deadly but could, in some individuals, cause severe allergic reactions that may result in death. The individuals who died after being bitten by the mysterious spiders were reportedly cremated before autopsies could be performed, and scientists have yet to test the toxicity of the spiders’ venom.

The sudden infestation nevertheless remains a concern for both scientists and Sadiya residents, as venomous spiders are not native to India’s Assam region, where the attacks occurred.

British naturalist Vejay K. Singh told the Times that, while swarms of spiders are rare, ”a certain anomaly in conditions may provoke an unusual surge in breeding populations…usually after flooding when the spiders search for dry and higher ground.” Post-flood spider swarms in Australia last March left farmlands blanketed in spiderwebs, while in Pakistan millions of spiders enveloped trees  following last year’s devastating floods.

Specimens of the Sadiya spiders have been sent to the Indian Society of Arachnology in the state of Maharashtra for identification.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in News

 

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Michelle Gets Down in India

The First Lady shows the young girls a move or two in India –

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2010 in News

 

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Skin Whiteners and Chin Chillers in India For Men

Vestiges of caste and colonialism…

Vaseline's new skin-lightening app on Facebook has come in for criticism from some users in India.

Vaseline skin-lightening app stirs debate

Vaseline’s new skin-lightening application for Facebook users in India has re-ignited the debate over skin color and perceptions of beauty.

The app, which was launched by Vaseline, invites Indian men to download their profile photos and drag a line across the screen to digitally “Lighten my Skin.”

It is being used to promote Vaseline Men UV Whitening Body Lotion, a new product launched in India in June into an already crowded market for skin-lightening creams.

The Vaseline facebook app

On the Facebook page inviting reviews of the product, users have left a string of angry comments. One wrote: “I wish I could rate this less than 1…racist application. India has the biggest double standards. Imagine the horror and uproar if this were published by a western country.”

Another said he condemned the ad campaign, writing “It is insidious of them to take advantage and make profit out of a bias that unfortunately exists in the Indian society.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2010 in General

 

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