Nothing has polarised humans into groups as colour did and even relegion perhaps stands second . We find a topic like this , so potentially insinuating owing to its emotional tone and the omnifarious understanding each carry in their head due to their naturally diversified experiences . And also its in our nature to always bring the past into the way we perceive things , something that happens instantly . For all these reasons , my only clear ambition will be to talk about how people perceive BLACK as a colour in the broadest context with no discussion into the racial and political domains ( a separate topic on its own ) and to try and explore why we all dont appreciate BLACK ,the colour in a positive context .
The Queen of Dark : Nyakim Gatwech is a 24-year-old South Sudanese model.
If you are a Indian growing up in the millennium , perhaps its not usual for you to observe certain gruesome practices of untouchability in your daily life as our earlier generations practiced or endured with. Yet , here we are in the age of hyperloops and mars missions, still persisting with a notion that makes a dark complexioned girl less confident or ill advises someone to not buy his first car in Black colour. There is always an ominous and obnoxious tone people associate with the colour black since time immemorial , that has largely gone under the shadows and only its subtle subtexts are visible at the surface .
Its a common site in Indian families when a pregnant lady who is gorgeously dark complexioned feeds herself a daily dose of ‘Kesar/Kumkumapoo’ , the saffron flowers of crocus C. sativus , a perennial plant , quite expensive as well , in hope her child gets a lighter skin complexion . In fact her own beautiful mother with a brilliant black glow would persist that she take it daily , not because they are all racists but frankly out of love . A concern that their child doesn’t have to endure a harsh inferiority complex that they had to growing up . Any territory of history that is repugnant is called Black history . Any persons negative aspect is called his dark side . We mourn death with black and call a deadly curse as the black curse . Why did humans come to perceive anything unfavourable as black and to sum it all up , we have a quote that says “ Face is the index of the mind “ . Imagine if culture categorically creates a learning in us that makes children fear , detest and avoid black as its perceived as negative , how would he/she perceive other humans whose entire skin is black or even worse , how would a child perceive her own self in the mirror when her spectacular black skin gives her an instant notion of being unwanted . One cannot imagine the character crisis everyone with a dark skin face growing .
Lydia Marshall , a dazzling dark skinned model from Kuala Lumpur
I wish life was as simple as the imaginary paradise “Wakanda” in the “Black Panther” movie . Its amazing how in the movie , the paradise is an advanced society where all are blacks and looks are appreciated on dimensions other than skin colour and there is a notion of Black being the colour of power and the nations protector ,King T’chala adopts the colour of BLACK PANTHER with pride and there is appreciation of beauty purely in terms of physique , attitude and skill set . How ideal do you think is our society , where still our movies don’t prefer to cast feminine lead roles played by any scintillating shades of dark skinned actors . Even the patriarchal advantage given to male lead actors to be dark skinned is still flawed with them being complimented on making the cut despite having the ‘disadvantage’ of black skin and it gets more so despicable when the same lead man strictly prefers to fall for a beautiful ‘fair’ lady because he gets what society considers the best .
Women from the Imaginary land of “Wakanda”
Thus coming back to the pragmatic attributes of being black , one has to admit for some reason we as an Indian society despite our fantastic diversity and uniqueness in language and customs , always fail to conceive black and white skin on the same parallel . And perhaps there is certain non malleable traits the colour Black posseses that enables this tendency in us that we shall explore now .
A) FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN –
Every biological entity is designed to protect itself from danger and any entity that is unknown or mysterious is perceived to be dangerous , and that means DARKNESS/BLACK is mysterious and is a potential danger . It means that all of evolution teaches us to avoid or detest dark entities because they are naturally intimidating . This simply makes any child instantly develop the notion of having to “not prefer” anything black because it can be dangerous and in time this “non preference” leads to disgust . Its not my concern if you feel like questioning the almighty as to why design a universe in such a way that Black by its nature is bound to get repulsion simply because our nervous systems are alarmed by it . But this natural reaction gets so hardwired into our systems and such that the natural response to black is avoidance and it takes several age to unlearn this innate nature in us . Simply put , anyone whose claims their favourite colour as black is interestingly someone who initially developed this liking only in late teen or adolescence after perhaps understanding its real virtue .
B) BLACK IS SHEER POWER-
The universe’s most dominating colour is Black . Dark matter surrounds us . Black holes engulf anything and everything . Death leaves us in the end with nothing but matters of Carbon which is black. The Most intense form of music on earth is Black metal. The most energising drink is Black Coffee not bloody gatorade . Revolutions to alter power balances start with Black flags .Its not BLACK’s fault that any thing we perceive as power , intimidation or rebelliousness is inescapably given a Black flavour to it . This means that we take black to be a statement of power which in daily terms complicates what we try to carry off . A regular day in the office requires something less complicated as yellow or blue and only occasional black days are tolerated . As soon as you exhibit more than frequent preferences to black , you inexplicably are making a statement of being a rebel and people should be intimidated by you. So as long as you are an easy going character who prefers smoothness and calmness in your life , you may naturally avoid something intense and complex as black in your basic propensities .
The shot from Movie “Kaala”(Black) played by Indian superstar Actor Rajnikant , famous for his style and dark complexion .
There is whole science behind how we tend to approach colours in our daily life for each colour caries within it an inherent meaning , none more so than the robust and complicated meaning of Black .
I think ‘BLACK APPRECIATION’ is a real thing . Its something you teach your children , because its important how a person perceives black. When a whole species of human beings can fight amongst each other at times due to their perception of colour , it takes serious unlearning of nature thats must be inculcated in by parenting . Let your child understand his inhibitions towards black , through appropriate exposures to good aspects of black and trimming of irrational disgust associated with it so he establishes a deep undertstanding of SKIN COLOURS at the end of the day and is comfortable if his/her own skin colour is black and can make other black skinned people feel equally appreciated .
YOU CAN START BY
1) Not describing black colour as something less beautiful and appreciating beauty not based on skin colour .
2) Allowing your child to prefer black dresses if thats what he/she likes.
3)Watching the movie BLACK PANTHER 😉 😉
Dr .Vel Prashanth Venkatesan is a resident of Psychiatry at the CENTRAL INSTITUTE OF PSYCHIATRY (CIP), Ranchi, India who writes on Indian contexts of psychosocial issues with keen interests in helping towards mental health awareness.