By Kavita Emmanuel | Founder and Director of WOW

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India still stands out at as the world’s largest democracy.   But what makes us unique is also the largeness of our diversity. Diversity of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, languages and SKIN COLOUR together make India truly special. As we celebrate our 68th Independence Day, let us be proud of our nation and all 1.2 Billion shades of skin colour it displays.

I noticed that since we began the Dark is Beautiful campaign in 2009 people have become more vocal about sharing their experiences with skin colour discrimination. The stories have begun to get deeper and brutally honest. The most painful are those where skin colour bias has driven people to suicide, ended marriages, increased dowry demands or crippled a child of his/her potential while at school.

Adoption agencies continue to struggle finding homes for dark-skinned children. I know of a family that has adopted a beautiful dark skinned girl whose siblings in the adopted family happen to be light skinned. The mother struggles to hush the comments from neighbours, friends and relatives who are ever so generous to hurl hurtful and wounding remarks at the child.

Battling mind-sets and addressing attitude change is no easy task. What may be disappointing to some of us is that in spite of the fact that campaigns such as ours have taken steps towards getting this toxic belief out of our society, we continue to battle every day struggles with skin colour bias. You may continue to face disappointment every time an advertisement praises ‘fair skin’ over dark skin. Maybe the name-calling and derogatory comments about your skin colour haven’t altogether disappeared. True! We need to learn to live with confidence in the midst of the painful reality that’s surrounds us. Don’t lose heart! Hold on to all that makes you who you are!!

I have said this before and I will continue to say this: Change begins at home, in our neighbourhoods and schools.  Let’s stop pretending that all is well in our contexts. Please do not shy away from talking to your children about the existence of the bias. They would rather hear it from you than face it in the crude form of comments from people or on television screens. Tell every child that they are valuable just as they are, in their own skin!

Join us as we celebrate diversity. Download and use this free Facebook cover for the rest of the week. Give us a shout out by including #dare2bcolourblind in the Add Description box.

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