A banana is usually yellow. It is also green when it is not yet ripe. I used to think all apples are red until I saw a green one on a fruit stand, The same thing when I saw a bunch of green grapes while at the grocery. The difference in the color usually translates to a difference in other characteristic. A green apple is not necessarily better than a red one unless of course you ask someone regarding their preference.
How we look at other people is not that different from how we look at fruit. Like a typical Filipino, I am brown. There are also a lot of Filipinos who have lighter skin than mine and a lot more who has a darker complexion than me. One is not necessarily better that the other, unless of course you ask someone who they prefer. I honestly don’t mind if someone finds a certain skin color to be more appealing than another. Taste and preference are just one of those things that are difficult to define or justify. Unfortunately, preference towards a certain trait usually has an effect on how we perceive other characteristics of that object.
Let me go back to my basket of fruits right here. To someone like me who has never tasted a green apple, I would assume that a green apple is an unripe apple. I would also think that it is not as sweet and delicious as the red ones that I am already familiar with. So for me, red apples are better than green ones.
I think us Filipinos have an odd view towards skin color. Despite our naturally dark skin, society in general gives a higher premium on all thing “white”. I think the Philippine market has one of the most diverse offerings in terms of skin whitening products, from the usual skin whitening soap, to injectable medicines with skin whitening side-effect. I guess this mindset is still one of the glaring evidence of a strong colonial influence left by the Americans and the Spaniards.
How the media depicts dark-skinned characters does not in any way correct this twisted view. Most local programs does not even feature characters with dark skin. If they happen to do so, it is mostly comedies which makes fun of such characters. This is sad realization considering the fact that one of our ancestors, the Negritos, have darker complexion. This piece of information, which was taught in school as early as the 3rd grade, seems to have complete slipped from our mind. A case, perhaps of a society-wide selective amnesia.
However, other cultures should not mistake this prejudice from the usual issue of racism prevalent on other countries. Would it make sense if I say that it is more of an issue on skin COLOR rather than RACE? The two words sound synonymous in line with this topic. I do believe that this bias is mostly just “skin deep”. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. At one end, this would somehow erase the notion that Filipinos are also harbor racist beliefs. But on this other, this makes us look like a bunch of superficial dummies too scared to look in the mirror for fears of seeing our true (figurative) color. Yes, we can label fruits in any way we want. They do not have any feeling or rights as far as I know.
After watching a series of news bits on racism in European football, it makes me feel ashamed to see how a black player defend his identity and heritage with such passion and pride against a stadium full of aggressor. National identity is in itself difficult to define. An unconscious desire to push out one of our most identifiable traits only proves to make it a harder challenge.
I do not know the reason why God decided to make all of us in different colors.
But what I know is this:
I am neither black or white. The color of my skin is brown.
This does not make me any less or any better than the person next to me.This should not inspire me from treating other people of different color any less or any better.
God made me brown, but he also made me in a form of a HUMAN. I think more than anything, we should strive to act like one.