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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK:
It is quite interesting to note that people in India, especially in the northeast, are obsessed with fair skin.
Meghalaya is no exception, as the first question people usually ask when they find out that someone has had a baby would never be if it’s a boy or a girl. Instead, the first question is always “ba iong ne ba lieh?” (Is the child dark skinned or fair?).
But why is this so? What difference does it make?
The sad part, however, is that a few people out there are more than happy when someone says they do not look like tribals.
Having fair skin has almost become like a privilege here in Meghalaya, to a point where most people define beauty by one’s skin colour.
It is like we have been taught to think this way, and it is somehow ingrained in our minds.
In mainland India, the colour bias is linked to the caste system as people believe the upper caste to be fairer.
The colour bias here in Meghalaya, however, can be traced back to colonial times.
We, the indigenous people, have been hardwired to look up to the white man and his culture.
Somehow, the fairer the skin, the closer we associate ourselves with westerners, fashion, luxury and power.
Some of us pride ourselves in being half Irish, half Scottish, etc.
The moment we hear someone say "Khun phareng te uto/kato" (She/he is anglo), our attitude and behaviour towards the person take a drastic change. We strive to be like them, do things like them and pride ourselves in being friends or acquainted with that person.
At the end of the day, we need to let go of this mindset and take pride in our rich culture. Only then will a true spirit of patriotism arise.
Until then, staying true to your roots and accepting your individuality are the first steps to take.
The fact is that we can’t all be the same, and we must learn to accept it.
Colour does not define beauty.
(The views and opinion expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TNT-The Northeast Today)