Forward Ever – Backward Never

With this post we at AntaraMitra.com wish you a very safe and enjoyable increment of day, month and year! Namaste… as always. (My spirit greets and blesses yours.)

Goodbye with fondness to all we met and with whom we enjoyed time together in 2017, however brief it may have been! Actually, our own calendars are so chock-full of more similar (yet we hope, fresh and enjoyable) shows elsewhere that we’re forced to press on, so we must go…

Forward ever, backward never!*

Hello, 2018!

Now, FYI dear music lovers, you won’t see or hear me sniping at Great Britain here (quite the contrary, I can assure you, lol—visiting there was a delight). While the British Raj era was oppressive and repressive for several decades, English rule brought some good. Cultures enmeshed and allied, especially after the 1960s Beatles visits here for spiritual enlightenment and expanded musical concepts opened peoples minds about cross-culturalism.

So, rarely blazing radically-new trails here on the social media plane as well as pertaining to my work in music, art and culture in general, I want to broach a taboo topic now partly because the very courageous and gifted actress (and personal hero of mine) Priyanka Chopra recently spoke out to the American showbiz press about discrimination over skin colour [not to mention our double-standard of usually applying it to girls and women only, not to boys and men]… and to Allure about her personal struggles overcoming (believe it or not!) her own body issues.

It so happens that Priyanka and I have more in common than skin darker than the European ideal still so predominant in our present-day Indian culture—actually, we do have a Quantico connection of sorts (but it’s doubtful that you’ll be seeing this B’wood playback singer on American TV any time soon). Actually, I’ve never fancied myself an actor or photo model but occasionally I get calls.

So now ’the gauntlet has been thrown down’ and I don’t mind offering some thoughts on the state of fairness (no pun intended) with regard to darker-coloured women being treated differently than their fairer peers.

I could speak to this publicly, but honestly no one is asking me, lol. As in gender-shaming, I have probably also preferred to avoid rather than to tackle the issue.

I’m not adverse to being somewhat frank. Even I’ve admitted to a tiny such tendency in a TV interview. My countless brother and sister Bohemian-artist types expect nothing less of me. So…

Isn’t it about time to move past so many trivial surface concerns… and instead move on to more equitable ways to interact with each other? Then we tackle more profound matters? Is it even possible in our lifetimes?

Well, I didn’t start this blog-site to engage in public acts of defiance, nor to attack the authority of anyone else. I’ve survived despite some choice indignities and life goes on past the colour line, that’s given.

It has actually never been of paramount importance to me, but now that the vipers of strong public opinion have slithered up just a bit closer to swim in the shallow pools of social controversy [hey blog administrators: how’s that for the odd metaphorical allusion?], I’ll take this first foray (or plunge, if you will—and it may well not be my last in this light) and say that I can relate to what she says and how she felt about herself when facing skin-colour prejudice.

It’s not a happy feeling and I’ve seen the ill effects of colour discrimination in public and private situations. I choose not to elaborate for personal reasons (including no desire to answer hurtful acts with more of the same).

In any case, who can deny that Priyanka is a mega talent who’s fairly tearing it up on U.S. TV? To answer that, I would say the big ‘ratings police’ could. Now I have no intention to step into that fray and far be it from me (as a semi-celebrated darkish small-town girl) to present myself as some kind of moral authority on employment or plain old public transport service discrimination. I would bluntly add, Ms Priyankaji isn’t bad on the eyes whatever her skin tone. AND we aren’t alone:

(I’m not in any of these pics, though my web team notes a Bengali-heritage resemblance.)

However, isn’t it at least nearing a time when how people look, dress or speak [or refrain from speaking] is used against them in snap decisions either overtly or covertly to result in unfair work or travel discrimination? Imagine you’re out with family or friends for dinner and no one will seat you in their dining room because one or more of your party happens to be an adherent of Sikhism and chooses to wear a traditional head wrap? How silly is that?

My manservant/footman Joe (FJ) uses this odd metaphor: Imagine you lived on a bucolic farm and were buying a goat, a dog or a horse for your family. Would the colour of its fur be a deal breaker if it happens to be black or brown? How dumb is that? Maybe the animal has an odd spot or two? Does that prove it’s cursed [or otherwise inferior]? Certainly not!

So what is all the hubbub over what some call race yet most call skin tone or complexion?

Bollywood playback Singer Antara Mitra

Singer Antara Mitra

When it involves the purposeful and/or systematic exclusion or other punishment of individuals for simply being born looking certain ways with respect to hair and skin colours; for example, it’s nothing short of illegal discrimination in most evolved countries—where national laws proscribe against it.

I’ve never sought an advantage in a singing contest because I’m a female (because that would actually be gender discrimination, another sad human legacy), however. I’m merely putting this out to the universe; please don’t hate me for thinking and saying what I thinknor for how I look!

All right. I get it: haters gonna hate! We love. Love always (eventually) defeats hate. 


*The often-quoted words of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana—the first African country to separate from British rule (roughly a decade after India).

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