My color project might seem a little different at first. But like the others, it does focus on the importance of color in society, its meaning, what we can do with it, or about it. I looked up at the color of our skin.
We are different. This is not something that I will dispute. We deserve social and legal equality, this is true, but the fact that some are born with blond hair or black hair, some with red skin or dark skin, gives us criteria that characterize our own person. Thinking of this, Michael Jackson always comes to my mind. It interests me that he was born black and decided to become white. I had wondered why when I was younger. I understand now that unhappiness, shame, sensitiveness to what the others say can drive you to such radical changes.
Scientifically speaking, something as visible as the complexion of our pigment is determined by quite little. The gene by the name of SLC24A5 produces melanin, the protein that protects us from UV radiations. For natural protection, people who stay in the sun more are therefore more likely to have a dark skin. And this small little fact led to so much in our history.
Soon, with the expansion spirit of the Roman Empire, conquered provinces around the Mediterranean Sea threw thousands of men into slavery. This didn’t especially discriminate blacks from whites, but created the notion of racism, the belief that “race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”
The impact of this definition is huge. Civilizations that didn’t have the characteristics of being white were always seen as “less-than”and nobodies, resulting in slavery, manual labor, native American wars, black codes, segregation.
Today we went a long way. With the Civil Rights movements in the 60ies for example, and more generally the people’s desire for justice, we got to a time when a black person can be president. Despite that, discrimination is not something that we will get rid of, not completely. The fear of what is different is instinctive and animal, and deplorable, but we are condemned to live in a world that demonstrates it all of the time. A new polemic today is the rise of the neo-nazis, groups that sustain the ideas of not-to-be-introduced Adolf Hitler.
Coming back to science, human ‘species’ don’t exist. A species is determined as a group of living organisms capable of inbreeding. Living beings that can reproduce and have a fertile lineage. And who has never seen a ‘latte’ kind of person?
This is true for any kind of prejudicial judgment: the problem is not that we notice the differences – I believe they are worth noticing – but that we judge by them and determine too fast who the others are. Generalization is a curse. Some that I have heard before and that have shocked me: “a Jew’s purpose is make money”, “Asians will smile at you before stabbing you in the back”, “if you are Romanian, you are a thief and a liar and you live in a trailer”, “black people have a smaller brain and therefore are stupid”. They make me sad.
I have created a quick video including extracts of speeches by Martin Luther King, Charles Chaplin, Ban Ki Moon, Bob Marley, from the Oprah show, Spielberg’s Lincoln… They have an answer of their own to this terrible unsolvable eternal question of equality. I recognize that this video only focuses on blacks/whites, but take it as an example not an omission.