Archive for June, 2012

08
Jun
12

Dark is Beautiful

The most popular post on my blog is one I had written few years back about the subtle yet common discrimination in India against the dark skin. It touched a chord with hundreds of people, men and women who had suffered through discrimination silently but today were strong enough to talk about it. I especially got more emails from women, young and old who wrote touching stories, which made me realize women suffer more than men. Being told your skin is ugly and unattractive can be a blow to self esteem and confidence, which is a huge loss for our culture and even the economy. So I was excited to see a small non-profit, Dark is Beautiful bloom in Chennai focussing on highlighting the beauty of dark women and working on issues faced by such women. Track them on their facebook page if you are interested in their cause.

I leave you with the below poem shared on their facebook page.

Good Mothers by Saudha Kasim


Good mothers obey the old crones who hang
By the windowsills, staring into low-ceilinged, dark rooms.
Toothless and ashen-skinned, they suggest remedies:
Rose water, milk, honey, jasmine, powdery sandalwood.

Good mothers, pregnant and blooming, bathe in all that and
Listen to their mothers echo the interfering old crones.
The ones who suggest bleaching agents
Dredged from the earth and plucked from trees.

Good mothers rub gold rings in honey (vigorously)
And put the gold-flecked syrup drop by little drop
In their newborn’s mouth.
My mother, I guess, was not good.

She didn’t burn cattle skulls and catch the moon
In her bedtime glass of milk. She drank 7 Up and ate
Sardines with relish, burnt frankincense and read up
On Vodka and Cognac brands in Kala Kaumudi.

My mother didn’t stare at snow, but watched Ronald Reagan,
Stetson on his head and mounted on a mustang, chase villains
In black and white cowboy movies subtitled in Arabic.
My mother was not surprised at my burnt bronze skin.

My mother, unlike good mothers, didn’t cover me in Cuticura.
She didn’t want me paraded in whiteface, the Keralite Kabuki artiste.
She kissed my bronze toes and admired my unfair skin.
My mother sneers at whitening unguents and loves my dark brow.

My mother, stuck in a desert town, blew raspberries at
The old crones who gave good mothers white chicken feathers.
You couldn’t be anyone else, she whispered in my ear,
Black, brown, red, yellow.

My mother didn’t name me after Ayesha, the fairest consort.
Instead, she gave me the name of the Abyssinian widow.
Blackness, she says, it means blackness.
My mother gave me the gift of colour. 

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