Mallika Thoppay is an educator, author and social advocate. She is a volunteer English teacher to school-aged children residing in rural areas of Karnataka, India. She believes in women empowerment and standing up against social injustices. She was recognized as a volunteer champion for the years 2021-2023 by eVidyaloka, an organization that sets up digital classrooms in rural India. She is also an active volunteer with organizations such as the 100Books Initiative, Santa Clara County libraries and West Valley Community Services. She enjoys writing books that inspire social change and convey purposeful messages. Her book, Unfair & Lovely, is an effort to combat the issue of colorism in society. She is a Computer Science engineer by background and holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from Kansas State University. She has worked at various tech companies in the Silicon Valley and has run a coding camps business.
Deep Dive Discussion
Discussion Session 3-A. The Detrimental Effects of Colorism on South Asian ChildrenDescription
Why are you so dark while your sister is so fair? You would be so much prettier if you were fairer! Dark skinned children in South Asian society are subject to judgmental remarks such as these on a daily basis. The taunting begins right when a child is born. Enquiring about the complexion of a newborn baby (specifically, how fair the baby is) is a very common question. Television and media blatantly tout commercials, shows and movies that showcase fair skin as beautiful. Fairness skin creams are readily available at supermarkets. The commercials for these creams have top Bollywood (Indian film industry) actors endorsing them, broadcasting the message that using these creams will somehow deliver a better life. Story books read by South Asian children often attribute positive traits to only fair skinned characters. Obsession for fair skin is not viewed as a problem - and that is a big problem.
In the long run, the damage caused to the self-esteem and mental well-being of children when subject to constantly being made to feel inadequate is inevitable. They start to lack confidence and refrain from interacting socially. They stop pursuing opportunities and taking on chances, fearing rejection.
The facilitator will share the effects of colorism on South Asian children and efforts in place to fight it. Participants will be able to share colorism related experiences they face with children and will have the opportunity to brainstorm solutions that promote acceptance and empathy when they interact with children, as well as when children interact amongst themselves.
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