When color is more than just color…

“We still live in a world where the color of our skin not only gives a first impression but a lasting one that remains.” – Angélica Dass: The beauty of human skin in every color.

Born in a family of colors
The wonderfully talented Angélica Dass describes herself as being born in a family of colors. When I heard her say those words, I was mesmerized. It was such an soft and warm way to describe where she was from and said so much more than just describing her skin color. It felt like she was describing a whole new level of looking at people and at yourself. The way she sees the world, of how she accepts it, describes it and urges others to open their eyes through her photography.
Black and white world
Growing up in a family that has always been accepting of different cultures, religions and views of life, there was no color that I felt didn’t belong in my world. We were raised to respect each other, be polite and not to judge. It was never a discussion of what you looked like, it was about how you behaved and how you treated others. We grew up in many different places and not once did I feel like I didn’t belong. Something that resonates through my life even now. I am blessed with an amazing group of friends around me from all walks of life, who I respect for who they are and as opposed to seeing only their outsides, I am more concerned about what they think, what they want to achieve and how they live their lives. I know I am lucky to be born in a society where I had the opportunity to grow up the way that I did. And so to me, it is painful to read and learn of people being judged, harmed and discriminated against because of how they look, what religion they follow or what skin color they have. Painful because I’ve never experienced it and cannot for the life of me understand or relate when friends tell me of their own experiences. I feel angry for them, insulted for them, upset because this is still happening, why some people still only see the world in black and white, even though there is so much more color that can be added from the palette.

Color is more than just color
What I loved most about Angélica Dass’ TEDtalk was how she describes her family as a mix of colors, from dark chocolate to porcelain to a vanilla and strawberry yoghurt tone to cinnamon with a pinch of hazel and honey and sisters the color of toasted peanuts and beige like a pancake. So many colors, so many impressions, so many differences. Sometimes it feels like we are pushed into checking a box of pre-set colors, unable to just be human. Instead we need to choose to be white, black, brown, yellow, red etc. Yet Angélica points out through her photography that not only is that small mindedness, it’s simply not true. Color is more than just color.

Like a crayon
When you look at her pictures you can tell that from soft peach or alabaster to warm caramel and deep mahogany, there are rarely two skin colors really alike. We all have a unique hue to our cheek, one that makes us who we are and we cannot define who we are by placing everyone in a box like a crayon.

We need to delve deeper and further. It is imperative for us to truly understand where we can start mending fences in the future and where we can create a bond of acceptance. If the classes that Angélica teaches to children are anything to go by, I think that, truly embracing color as part of your life, starts at the very beginning, by opening our eyes to what color really is. So much more than just a check in a box.

Click on the image below to check out Angélica’s amazing TEDtalk.

Text by: Gemma Damen

Photo: Bret Hartman / TED