“I had never been in a room before with both other POC and white folks talking about personal experiences with colourism. I’ve had my own inner monologues about colourism and heard people talking about colourism in abstractions, but here was a roomful of people giving real world examples of how colourism has affected them, and the impact of that struck me at my core.”Daniela Capistrano, Attendee, Workshop at Allied Media Conference 2013 | Founder, POC Zine Project
“The media does not want us to know that the $10+ billion skin-lightening product market is of their making, and that these products only perpetuate skin-color stereotypes and discrimination. Spanning four decades, the myth-building has filled pockets of manufacturers.”Jyoti Gupta, Initiator, The Colo(u)rism Project
“A mother of a dark-skinned girl, who also had a physical disability approached me after the talk. She had been fighting her family’s hatred towards her daughter. They publicly humiliated her for many things, and her dark-skin was one of them. “Jyoti Gupta, Speaker, TEDxSugarLand Womens'Conference
“We participated in a workshop where we had to come up with a commercial that was the opposite of colourism—affirming to darker skinned POC. Even that was a challenge for each group for a variety of reasons—some ideas triggered others while those supporting those same ideas felt that they were being dismissed/silenced. It was a very eye-opening process that revealed how difficult it can be for even small groups of POC to reach consensus on how to address colourism.”Daniela Capistrano, Attendee, Workshop at Allied Media Conference 2013 | Founder, POC Zine Project
Putting the U in Color
Putting the U in Color, was a funded project, supported by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance. It is the first exhibit of its kind, that shows curated and original artist works on the theme of colorism.
It is true, that the discrimination we have felt based on our skin color, sometimes even within our families is not our imagination. And there is a way to overcome and celebrate it through the medium of art, media and participation. Artists + Media makers collaborated for this public exhibit to challenge existing biases against dark-skinned girls and women (and men) within the South Asian community.
I published Colors Of Brown: Dispelling Skin Color Bias through Online Dialogue in 2008. In this study, I delved into the why of this centuries-old tradition. One that continues to this day. To read about Bollywood beauty standards, the alternative cinema defiance, television, the skin-lightening product industry, and emergent counter culture at the time, visit www.colorsofbrown.org.
Conversations with scholars about skin color references in the ancient Indian tradition of art, folk literature, and dance, led me to its roots. Candid interviews with media icons, as well as people on the street in New Delhi, confirmed that colorism and the skin-lightening product industry were here to stay.