One of my closest friends is a black American, and she and, being a Pakistani Pashtun as well as a Muslim American, I share a ton of things in terms of some of our experiences with racism, discrimination, and other layers of marginalization (the discriminations I’ve faced have been nothing compared to what she faces, though). She’s Muslim as well.
Recently, our conversations have been mainly on racism and being black and being a minority in America. When we’re not talking about that, we talk about boys/men, relationships, marriage, our careers, etc. The other day, I told her that I need her in my life and we need to make sure that wherever we end up living, we end up neighbors or at least in the same city. She said, “Yes! And! We could even make sure that your son/daughter marries my daughter/son (if our children are heterosexual).” So that’s a deal. Then I said, jokingly: “Wait … that means there’ll be black blood in my grandkids” and made a face. “Listen, I’m not sure about that. I just feel like I want my kids to be really, really beautiful and marry really, really beautiful people and have really, really beautiful children.” And she played along with me and we went on talking about how we can make sure our kids are as white as possible. Because white skin is obviously better and more beautiful than non-white skin, as the entire universe will have it known to you. (Needless to say, this was all in jokes and we are both sickened by the preference for white over darker skin in so much of the world.)
As we laughed and joked, we realized how real of a conversation this actually is among some people. She and I were poking fun at the idea that white/light = beautiful and black/dark = ugly, but we have people in this world who will turn down great men and women because of their skin color and the potential of not having “beautiful” children. With advancements in genetic engineering, rich people or at least people with enough money to spend on this stuff, can also decide what eye and hair color they want their babies to have—that is, blue (or sometimes green) eyes and blonde (or red) hair.
In places like India and Pakistan, we’re taught that you can succeed only and only if you have light skin. (Reminds me – check out this pathetic Pond’s ad with the discriminatory advice to women that their ex will take them back if they use Pond’s “white beauty” cream for a white, pinkish glow. The ad stars Priyanka Chopra and Saif Ali Khan and hence no respect from me for them.) And it’s true for the most part, thanks to discrimination against people whose skin color resembles that of white Europeans. Light skin is the solution to all your problems and takes you places you never dreamed possible before. And it also means more praises. I’ve a relative whose hair is blonde and she looks all blonde, and her parents were ALWAYS being asked about what they do to the child’s hair to make it that blonde. All I remember, when I was a child listening to the tips for how to be blonde, was something about using coconut-something for your hair. Never worked for anyone else, though. Just that one lucky girl.
Yeah … that happened.