because if I did I would get “too dark.”
because “fair skin is beautiful and dark skin is not.”
because then I would “look more Indian.”
because then people would look at me more differently than they already do.
And I don’t want the attention.
I want to be beautiful like the white Bollywood actresses.
And God forbid I marry a dark man because then my children will be “dark.”
And “dark is shameful.”
“You don’t act Indian.”
“You don’t sound Indian.”
“You are white on the inside.”
And for some reason that felt like a compliment.
Because our society rewards people of color when they suppress their cultural background.
If I can fit in with whites it means I am normal.
I am not “weird” or “foreign” or “different.”
I am not a threat. I am not a terrorist.
If I can fit in with whites then maybe I can travel down South without worrying about my safety.
Without worrying about dirty looks, racial slurs, or simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
If I can fit in with whites then maybe I will stand a chance
But the color of my skin gives people the right to judge me
And the color of my skin defines me.
The author is a young 24-year-old second generation South Asian-American female from New Jersey pursuing a career as an optometrist.