Alphabet of Abundance – Day 11
For us to move forwards, we are often advised to look back. You might think this a futile exercise. What is the point of drudging up past pains to feel even more sad and upset about the life you lead? Well, I think it is more about what you do with the information that you uncover. It is not easy to deal with the past, I get that. However, in identifying ingrained patterns from our cultures, communities and societies, we can move forwards. Knowledge of our past, gives us the wisdom to create a better future for ourselves, our loved ones and future generations. Armed with wisdom we can challenge years of prejudice, racism and trauma that exists within our family units and our wider society.
In the notes for 21 Days, Deepak Chopra acknowledges that; our mothers and fathers are our fundamental archetypes that we use to construct our personality. So, it is crucial to recognise what belief systems we have inherited from them and how these are now shaping our lives.
Today the focus is on our mother’s role in our upbringing. As you are aware I am fiercely proud of my mum and I champion and celebrate her achievements and influence in my life, everyday. Read our very first post International Women’s Day. Mine is the first post.
When I was growing up, aunties would often tell me off for sunbathing. “Don’t sit in the sun, nobody wants a kali (black) bride” they would say. It always made me feel uncomfortable. What they were “teaching” me was; a fair complexion was beautiful and the desired shade for a man – within our community. On a trip to India once, I was told to buy Fair & Lovely – skin bleaching cream – because my skin was “too dark”. When you hear something repeated enough times, it becomes a truth, one that becomes a part of life.
I get my dark complexion from my mum. In the past my mum used to express how unattractive she felt because of her dark complexion, in relation to friends and family. In the moment that she put herself down like that, I would feel incredibly sad. It was as if she unconsciously rejected herself and therefore rejected me.
This is the result of centuries of colonial rule in India. You see, in the days of the “Great British Raj”, people from lower working-class backgrounds worked on farms, in fields and cleaned toilets. They would be out in the sun all day. The fair skinned Indians, would work inside the palaces and houses, saving their skin from the sun. These fair skinned Indians still lived lesser lives than their British counterparts, who had taken up occupancy in their country, but their fair skin awarded them better servants status and certain privileges over the darker skinned servants.
When tensions began to rise between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs (orchestrated cleverly by the British) the British left, leaving behind a bleeding India, literally split in half. We call this part of our “collective” history Partition. Partition is celebrated as “Independence” from British Rule. However, Independence cost India the death of 2 million Indians and displaced a further 14 million. The Legacy of British Rule is death and destruction and a set of ingrained ideologies that deny Indians their true identity.
Black/dark skin became undesirable, as it was generally the colour of the lower working classes, whilst White/fair skin became desirable and was heralded as the sign of beauty, because of its association with the ruling classes – a sign of privilege.
By examining our own past, we allow ourselves to understand the root cause of negative behavioural patterns. If we choose to, this discovery could help us put our whole lives into perspective, right up to and including the present moment. It gives us the strength to shift our awareness from being passive in our lives to actively creating change.
When we delve into our history, we stop making excuses for people, we learn to stand up for our people and we demand that history books be changed to reflect the truth, of all our people.
Awareness allows knowledge, and knowledge allows wisdom. These are powerful tools which enable us to build a better world, one that is fuelled with compassion and kindness, full of opportunity and equality for everyone. In fact, it becomes our responsibility to raise our consciousness to help humanity.
The knowledge I have gained over the years has given me the wisdom to ignore the damaging advice of aunties (and that I would benefit from Fair & Lovely). I challenge them on their prejudice, reject their conditioning and choose instead to lead with my own conscious thoughts to be a better person. A person who stands up for justice and enables others to do the same.
For me journaling through 21 Days has been a very profound experience. The exercises have given me the power to acknowledge where I can make a change, whether that is by challenging behaviours, choosing to be positive in the face of negativity or planting flowers that will help the bees and the ecology of our planet. It is all about cultivating awareness and connecting with the soul of humanity of which we are all a part of.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement has reverberated around the world and its deep painful roar of enough is enough has shocked the very core of Humanity. Whether we are aware of it or not we are all part of the problem. How many times have we let the odd derogatory comment slide either because it wasn’t about us or we felt to scared to speak up? Staying silent is being complicit and aiding the disease to spread further and faster.
Donating, tweeting and signing petitions are all brilliant and help, but only if we back it up with action in our daily lives, for the rest of our lives. We must show up everyday; to support colleges who are subjected to casual racism in the office or rehearsal room, to hear young people when they speak about their experiences and enforce a change of law, strategy and system, to have those difficult conversations with family and friends and pull them up on their racist and prejudice views. Invest in businesses and arts run by our Black communities to support their growth and influence. To STOP buying from places that exploit or take advantage of people in lesser positions.
Coming from a South Asian background means we should be the first ones to step into to arena and defend our Black communities, for we too, have been on the the other end of the stick. We know how it feels. But above all – we are all born equal and we all have the right to freedom regardless of skin colour. If anything is to change then we ALL need to be ALL in – completely submerged in the fight, for each other. If I bleed you bleed. If I heal you heal. If I am free you are free.
I’ll leave you this Native American Proverb –
“Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past. Wisdom is of the future.” ~Lumbee
Have a soulful Saturday