If there’s one thing that needs to be mentioned in a South Asian-curated blog, it’s not the makeup, it’s not the skincare, and it’s not the style. All these things are important, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s nearly at the bottom of the list. None of these things matter if the rest of the world is still a heavy weight on your shoulders, holding you back from who you’re meant to be.
Of all the varying obstacles that we tackle each day, I can speak, or type, with 100% certainty that this topic is a hardship that every South Asian has experienced at least once in their lives. Whether that be by the outside world, or even by your family, colorism and the prejudices behind it will continue to exist in this world, no matter how often we fight for equality or to just be seen. The issue is that we are being seen, just not understood.
It’s a ridiculous thought to me that even our own South Asian family members, who should raise, love, and support us through anything, turn on us based on an aspect of ourselves that we have absolutely no control over. Before I even turn this onto a personal basis, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a colorist comment directed to a newborn, I could buy a yacht. Or a lot of coffee. You know what I mean.
South Asian cultures, no matter which part you’re from, should band together to keep each other supported. Not put us down, not compare us to others. Not wish and dream and judge when their newborn’s skin tone doesn’t resemble that of the colonizers they finally separated from.
When we make friends, we expect support and love from them too. We can’t choose our family, but we can choose who we spend our time with. To me, the comments from friends are a much bigger blow. At the end of the day, we can’t control the generation that our family comes from, but we know that the world your friends live in is your own, and if even they can’t see you for who you are, then it’s vital that you find the ones that do.
It is possible to find those that see you. I know it is. It takes a lot of patience, but the people you are meant to find will find you. You need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself in the process of it all. Protect your mental health. Don’t make excuses for those that don’t deserve it. And don’t change who you are.
Before we dig deeper, I think it’s important that we define a couple of words and how they’re all interconnected with each other. Colorism. Prejudice. Culture.
There’s really no right answer when it comes to who your friends should be. Spend your time around those that make you happy, make you feel good about yourself, and who you can trust. This is a pretty intense topic to talk about, but we need to stick together, strengthen our community. And that can’t happen without awareness.
Colorism is defined as the judgment of skin tone, especially within the same ethnic groups. That’s right, the same ethnic groups. Those of the same skin tone as you are your main opponents in the game of shade. Colorism is when you are treated differently due to a darker skin tone. You’re more likely to experience it than others, especially in conversation. Unfortunately, it occurs more commonly with people you’d never expect it from. Educated adults. In my senior year of high school, I was lucky and grateful to serve as editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook. I was a part of yearbook the two years prior and I loved my time on staff. For the first time in a while, I was doing something I loved, and I didn’t quit. I didn’t lose my stride. Until I did.
My advisor, the man I depended on, the man that was supposed to be present for support, made me feel undeserving. Made me feel bad about my skin tone. Made me feel like I wasn’t deserving of the position I worked my butt off to earn. Made me feel as if my skin tone were too dark compared to everyone else on staff. That my skin tone was too dark to be in photos. It sucked, and yearbook was never the same after that.
It sucks to say, but these comments are a part of life. It comes with the package deal of who we are. But to be honest with you, I’d never change anything for a second. If you think about it, we are the lucky ones. We always come out stronger than anyone. We shouldn’t have to, but we learn patience, we learn to stick up for ourselves, and we learn to never let people gain the satisfaction of hurting our feelings.
There are many prejudices toward the South Asian community as well. When you think of prejudice, think very loosely of the movie Pride and Prejudice. Prejudice is defined as a preconceived thought process toward a specific group of people. These thoughts can be religiously-motivated, gender-motivated, or, of course, color-motivated.
Like many other aspects and topics known to mankind, prejudice is just another subject on the list that will never be fully understood or can ever be fully eradicated. The feeling of knowing you’re capable but not being given the space or opportunity to show your skills. This is an unfortunate part of life, but knowing that others go through it too, and that you have an army of people standing behind you is comforting.
The final word I will be defining is culture. No matter your religion, everyone has a slightly different culture. I could be standing in front of another Sunni Muslim, but the two of us will not be the same. There’s nothing wrong with that. I believe having a different culture than everyone else is exactly what this world needs. Our parents, our grandparents, they come from different generations. Maybe they were immigrants, maybe they still live in the homeland while you’re living in America. No matter what the case may be, that automatically means that your culture is different than everyone else’s. If we stay trapped in the old school ways, there will never be room to grow, adapt, or evolve into the people we need to be in order to succeed.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that includes the comments that people make. This happens to make you a better and stronger person. This happens to show you who you’re meant to have in your life and who isn’t worth your time. We can’t control how people act, but we can control ourselves and the choices we make.
Colorism, prejudice, and culture are all ever present in all the societies we take part in in our day-to-day life. Whether it be school friends, family friends, or even family itself, there’s no such thing as a truly peaceful world. The one thing we can do in order to solve this is to learn inner peace. To sit back and enjoy the joys of life. To be grateful for who we were born to be. To be prepared for what the future has in store for us.
Our skin tones don’t define us. We are South Asian, and it’s important that we own it, appreciate it, and don’t let it hold us down. These experiences are detrimental to South Asian youth, but in a weird way, they’ve connected us beyond words.
Although we’re all different, our connection runs deep and that’s all that matters.
All my love,