In pride and praise of black
AUGUST 18, 2018 22:59 IST
UPDATED: AUGUST 18, 2018 22:59 IST R. Ravikanth Reddy
A group of college girls challenges popular prejudices, sensitises others on proud acceptance
“The Black skin is not a badge of shame but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness,” said Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born US civil rights activist. While the quote’s context is different, part of it – that black skin is not a shame – is apt to colour-conscious Indians for whom black is not beautiful, and often ugly too.
To rid this colour prejudice among kids who grow up with this auto suggestion and cultural conditioning, a group of girls — themselves dark-skinned — created a platform called ‘Dandora’ (a drum-beating village crier making a major announcement, in Telugu) asserting and spreading their belief that ‘black is beautiful’. Their destination? Schools in rural areas where colour discrimination is intricately intertwined with the lives.
Dispelling ‘dark’ness
“We wanted to start off somewhere, and thought schools are the best place where young minds can be impressed and sensitised easily,” says Varuni Sureddy, Founder and Co-President, Dandora, pursuing Bachelors in Economics at the Ohio State University, USA.
Meera Ayyagari, Co-President, a Mechanical Engineering student at CBIT and Vinathi Sureddy, Vice-President, and pursuing Bachelors in Economics at OP Jindal Global University say the idea behind it was to deliver, discuss and inspire conversations around social issues — gender equality, colourism, consent, rape culture — for students to navigate their moral stance and stand up for what’s right.
Busting popular myths
The team engaged the students of Zilla Parishad High School in Telkapally, Mahabubnagar district and KK Reddy High School, a private school in the same village and used the powerful media of feature films that students connect with immediately.
“By identifying day-to-day instances of colourism in the students’ lives, be it a family member casually ridiculing someone at a party for dark skin, fairer girls implied as more beautiful in movies, etc., we encouraged a quick advocacy session to practice counterbacks. One girl stood out with her response: ‘When Lord Krishna himself was dark, I don’t see a problem in embracing my skin colour’,” said Vinathi.
That change was visible giving them immense confidence. The ease in interaction emboldened the girls to open up. “Yes, they were victims of colourism but black is not bad either, the girls agreed and so did the boys,” she adds.
Consent and gender equality were other aspects exposed during the week-long interaction. A common portrayal of teasing a girl as masculine if the hero does it and the same by the villain as wrong was discussed. The team used clips from several films to make boys realise the difference betwee n consent and rejection.
The Dandora girls say they are happy that their message was loud and clear but it has to reverberate more often, and the responsibility lies on the younger generation to shout “Yes, black is beautiful.”
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