Friday, November 07, 2008

Ways to go...

Meanwhile the rest of the world (esp. the Middle East) have quite some catching up to do in matters of race. As this Lebanese daily reports:
Racism against black people has been alive and well in Arab countries for a long time, with Saudi Arabia ending its own private brand of slavery only at the beginning of the sixties and Mauritania still maintaining a very active slave trade until this day. Even in countries in which the practice of slavery never existed, the view of blacks as inferior has been prevalent for many years, and carries its own brand of prejudice culturally and politically.
One of the highest selling type of cosmetics in Egypt, Sudan and the Gulf today are skin-whitening creams that carry names such as "Fair and Lovely," "Ultra Fair" and "B-White," and whose advertisements send the message that girls will get the job/ men/look of their dreams if only they were whiter.
"Most westerners do not have an idea of how racist a place the Middle East can be," said Anthony Badran, a Lebanese Fellow for the DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "They are completely unaware, for example, that in many Arab countries, the word still used to refer to a black person is 'abed' or 'slave.'"

Dianne Blell combines fashion advertising, mythology and art history in the production of her photo tableaus. Here she seems to use classic elements of Hindu folklore using the vehicle of Radha and Krishna’s love story. The inherent stereotypes latent in many societies are reinforced subliminally using their mythologies and histories. This might be one reason why it is easier for people to transcend race here in the United States (the United States is relatively a new union without too much mythological baggage) but will be a much tougher act to follow in many other parts of our world.

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