Darkening Beauty in India
Source: Dark is Beautiful Campaign/YouTube (October 2013)
In India, a cultural movement to tackle colorism has taken root, from challenging the pervasive preference for fair skin in romantic partners to reconstructing depictions of Hindu gods and goddesses using dark-skinned models. Skin-whitening practices are pervasive throughout the country and drive a multimillion-dollar industry, but activists and other community members are seeking to reaffirm beauty and value in darker-skinned people.
“Dark is divine: What colour are Indian gods and goddesses?” (BBC News | January 2018)
“Bleached girls: India and its love for light skin” (The Conversation | July 2017)
“India’s unfair obsession with lighter skin” (The Guardian | August 2013)
A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty (UnErase Poetry/YouTube | July 2017)
Dark Is Beautiful
Afro-Brazilian Women’s Mobilization Moment
The current global push for the redress of epidemic violence against women—from #NiUnaMenos to #MeToo—has long been of national concern in Brazil, with women sharing stories of sexual assault via #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarassment) and demonstrations for reproductive rights having sought to counter entrenched conservative religious interests. For Afro-Brazilian women, this is part of decades of mobilization that has attempted to draw attention to both material and ideological disparities threatening their security. High homicide and sexual violence rates, reproductive healthcare limitations, anti-black beauty standards, and lack of positive cultural representation have led activists to demand attention to institutions and cultural practices that they argue have marginalized their welfare. From mass demonstrations to digital organizing, black women have taken the lead in movements for both racial and gender justice, challenging Brazil’s deeply embedded ideology of colorblindness and calling instead for more research into and accountability for persistent economic and cultural disparities.
“Beyond #MeToo, Brazilian women rise up against racism and sexism” (The Conversation, via Salon | January 2018)
“Afro-Brazilian Feminists and the Fight for Racial and Gender Inclusion” (Black Perspectives | February 2017)
“Black Women March Against Violence in Brazil” (teleSUR | November 2015)
“Interview with Djamila Ribeiro: Fighting Racism and Sexism in Post-Coup Brazil” (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs | December 2017)
“Black Brazilian Feminists Say: ‘Autonomy is the Only Way.’” (For Harriet | July 2015)
“Brazil: Report Exposes High Rates of Rape Among Women, Girls” (teleSUR | January 2018)
“The campaigners challenging misogyny and sexism in Brazil” (The Guardian | December 2015)
Geledés Black Woman Institute
Black Women of Brazil
China’s Growing Body Art Movement
Changing economic and cultural conditions in socially conservative China have given birth to a burgeoning body art movement, and Chinese women are battling mores to ink up. Shanghai in particular has become the center of tattoo production in the country, with some estimates putting the number of tattoo artists in China’s largest city as high as 2,000. While several ethnic groups (including the Dulong, Dai, and Li) have had historical tattooing traditions, contemporary Chinese body art has emerged from the relaxation of legal and cultural prohibitions on tattooing in China and the resurgence of tattooing in global popular culture. For women in particular, body art has come to mark an assertion of both identity and bodily autonomy. Recent media coverage has chronicled the dismantling of the tattoo taboo and the uptake of body art among Chinese women.
“Tattooed and proud: Chinese women peel away stigmas” (Agence France-Presse, via France 24 | December 2017)
“Good girls, not gangsters? Tattoos no longer taboo in China” (CNN | August 2015)
“Shanghai Inked: The Artists Redefining Tattoos in China” (That’s Shanghai | November 2015)
Wen Shen: The Vanishing Art of Chinese Tribal Culture
Christians celebrate opening of Christmas market in Algiers
- Catholic international organization Caritas organized the market, which has seen contributions from Christians and Muslims alike as a result of increased advertisement in its second year.
- Algeria’s population is 99% Sunni Muslim but has seen an increase in its Christian minority as a result of the international diplomatic community and influx of sub-Saharan migrants from countries like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
- Because proselytizing is legally forbidden, Algerian Christian organizations focus on social services in local communities as well as cultural exchange between the country’s Christian and Muslim communities.
“Christmas market opens in Algerian capital” (Reuters | December 2017)
“« Chrétiens d’Algérie », ils témoignent sans prosélytisme” (La Croix | October 2017, in French)
“Dans ‘Chrétiens d’Algérie-Sur les chemins de la rencontre’, Jean Dulon dévoile une ‘Algérie proche et fraternelle’” (The Huffington Post Maghreb | March 2017, in French)
Egypt expands crackdown on LGBT community
- Dozens of LGBT Egyptians have been arrested , including raids on cafés and detentions following a concert by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila (fronted by a gay man).
- As citizens continue to be subjected to invasive medical examinations and entrapment via social media and mobile apps, Egypt’s media regulatory body issued a statement condemning homosexuality as a “sickness” and barring the presence or representation of gay people in the media.
- In addition to political and law enforcement assaults, LGBT Egyptians have recently been the targets of cultural campaigns by the media and conservative religious and academic leaders.
“Brutal crackdown has gay and transgender Egyptians asking: Is it time to leave?” (The Los Angeles Times | October 2017)
“Egypt’s latest crackdown on gays creates fear in LGBT community” (USA Today | October 2017)
“Unofficial Translation of Statement by Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation” (Human Rights Watch | October 2017)
Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks
For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.
“Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)
Female students locked in hostels to avoid harassment during Holi festival in Delhi
- Two women’s hostels at the University of Delhi were put on lockdown over the Holi holiday out of safety fears.
- India’s minister for women argued the restrictions were necessary to defend against consequences of “hormonal outbursts.”
- Women have long reported being sexually assaulted during the festival, but some activists expressed outrage at women’s rather than men’s mobility being targeted as a response.
“Holi festival: Delhi women forced into lockdown amid sexual harassment fears” (The Guardian | March 2017)
“Delhi University hostels ‘lock up’ girls on Holi” (The Asian Age | March 2017)
“Delhi University hostels prohibit women students from playing Holi outside the premises” (International Business Times | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via International Business Times)