Countering the Colour

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Colourism, Safe Spaces, Spaces International, Inclusion, Mixed Race, Interracial, Experience

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How to actively look at people as more than just their skin colour and get to know them rather than just assume their stories and backgrounds.

I am what most people would call “the perfect“ skin colour, although there is no such thing! We live in a society that tries to construct a certain pattern, a goal everyone should attain in order to have value as a person. It is designed in such a way that no one, no matter how many boxes they tick, will still have something lacking, always falling short of something or the other.

My parents are an interracial couple, my father is Indian and my mother- white British, which has led me to have a blend of the two. I am light skinned, but tan at the same time with green eyes.

We grew up in a small town in India. School was interesting to say the least. I was the only half-white kid there apart from my elder brother. We always stood out, always were “those“ kids because of our colour. Even though India, as a society, really desires white beauty and fairer skin, it wasn’t always as easy as it would seem to be.

I never truly felt like I was part of society- always too fair or too dark for a place, my reputation or position was pre-decided for me.

Like most mixed race kids, I never truly felt like I was part of society- always too fair or too dark for a place, my reputation or position was pre-decided for me. Most of the times, people didn’t even try to get to know me, before deeming me with their labels and tags.

There are so many instances where my skin colour has worked both, against and in my favour. Stories I’d love to share. Here are a few-

Growing up in India, we learnt all about the colonisation of the British (something I am aware the British schools don’t really teach or have misconstrued to hide the pain and the brutality of what really happened). Being half British and learning about how terrible the British were and there not being any excuse for what went down, I was often seen as the enemy, just British cause of my skin colour, completely ignoring my Indian roots.

I’d have many kids say to me, “Simon, Go Back” (a common slogan used by the oppressed Indians in protest of the British colonisation). As a kid, hearing those things confused me , because I had the same experiences growing up in India as they did, but SOMEHOW I was the enemy? Different to them, but with the same society, schooling and upbringing.

I had people say that it was my Grandparents on my English side who did this and that THEY were the enemy. I remember coming home one day, all but a child, and telling my English granny about the “Big Bad British”.

In medical school however, things turned in my favour, but still it was injustice that prevailed. I would have people who would ask me about my ethnicity, rather than my medical knowledge during tests and interviews. I heard my colleagues ask me where I was from and get really surprised when I would speak in Hindi, or Marathi- Languages that we all probably learnt in primary school TOGETHER! As a whole, even though well meaning, all this inevitably made me feel like an alien, like I wasn’t one of them initially. Positively though, that changed with time as they got to know me better.

Life in the UK has been different to India, as there is a lot more representation of people of all colours. That said, I will often notice being treated differently just for the way I look, notice my own colour- not always in a negative way though. I am proud of both my heritages and they both are inalienable parts of who I am.

What’s interesting though, is how skin colour is really a social factor and there are subtle undertones of prejudice and bias, on both sides of the spectrum.

My message to any person of any colour would be the simple advice to ask you to embrace it, celebrate it. It might be a little tough at the start, but I PROMISE it gets better with time.

For all my fellow mixed race folks, be proud of who you are, YOU are the confluence of so many cultures, the culmination of so many regions. There are NO mistakes with how you look, only beauty. Your skin colour, hair, eye colour, your accent- they’re all perfect, in every way and form.

YOU are valued and important, not because of the amount of melanin in your skin, or the lack thereof, but because you have been designed and created perfectly.

You don’t have to change anything! You will find people (if you haven’t already), who love all of those qualities you’re embarrassed of and THEY will celebrate you not for how you look but for who you are as a person! Because YOU are valued and important, not because of the amount of melanin in your skin, or the lack thereof,  but because you have been designed and created perfectly.

Things are changing if you’re willing to let it and ready to support people who are different from you. My hope for our future is that one day our future generations won’t have to be out on the streets protesting for their BASIC rights as humans and that NO kid has to look at themselves and even wonder about their worth based on their colour but know that they’re beautiful and precious:  Just the way they are!

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This Post Has One Comment

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    Shirly

    Wow Ben. Written do well. I felt it was more like my sociology class where we debate on the concept of Varna and social issues related to it

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