I spoke recently with someone who is famously unimpressed by our species’ progress toward wisdom and compassion. “Do you see any concrete evidence of progress?” I inquired. “Yes,” she said. “Dolls, band-aids, and emojis now come in different colors.”
Some folks are blessed with lovely skin. Some not. We live in mixed-up times today, when things are often made more complex than they need to be. Skin color, for instance, if mentioned at all, is often encumbered with socio-historical squeamishness.
Maybe in societies where pretty much everyone is the same color, there’s less nervousness about skin color. But, even in the lower latitudes these days, because of prolonged colonialism, light complexion is considered good fortune. Less pigment means increased prestige. That’s pretty sad, if you ask me – reminiscent of The Stockholm Syndrome, where the oppressed begin to identify with, then revere and even mimic their oppressors. A pattern in world history: Energetic pale-skins from much farther north, feeling superior, descend upon and then enslave more languid peoples, farther south. How rude!
When people fear or just mistrust all humans of another hue, it’s not the color of their skin, per se, that sets them off. (Still, color is so evident that it’s the most convenient way to “know who’s who.”) The word discrimination means a lot of different things, some good, some not. In matters of perception it is just a fact of life. We notice differences. Where simple eyesight is concerned, what we call color blindness is a flaw. But, socially, what we call color blindness is a plus.
The size and shape of lip or nose, the slant or openness of eye, all vary between group and group. And, yet, more troublesome (because less based on fact), are shared conventional beliefs about the ethics, libido and innate I.Q. of various races.
Let’s leave aside such prejudice and simply talk about our skins. There is a wide variety of hues. If given choice before you’re born, which one would you be apt to choose?
You walk into a bakery; the wares you choose depend to some extent on how they look, is that not so? And, when you shop for a new ride, you’re gonna buy a car whose hue you like. The color of a vehicle is not mixed up with tawdry myths about its inner worth. The shocking pink convertible will very much resemble both the blue and burgundy in terms of pep, road noise, comfort and m.p.g.. You simply like the one you like.
While we’re discussing skin, let me say this: there are colors of skin I adore and others which have no appeal to me. Is that a sin? My favorite skins are brown, “cafe au lait,” I think they say. I am also impressed by the elemental dignity of truly black, African skin. Our so-called “white” Caucasian skins are hardly ever really white at all. They range in hue, inclining toward the sallow, pink, or brown. I am fascinated by, but not much attracted to, the alabaster skin of the Victorian ideal, so pallid that the pale blue veins show through. The owners of such skin quite often shield it from the sun to keep it pale; partly because it’s quick to burn and prone to cancers caused by sun, but also to preserve the odd, surreal translucency which makes it so appealing to most necrophiliacs.
I used to date a girl with so-called alabaster skin, who loved to spend her time in hollow logs. Her name was Laura, but everyone called her Larva.