This morning I was watching CNN and Anderson Cooper was reporting on a recent study on racism among children in America. The children were shown pictures of five identical cartoon children, their only difference was the colour of their skin. Then the children were asked questions such as "Who is the dumbest child?" "Who is the smartest child?", "Who is the bad child?"and "Who do you think people would say is the most beautiful?"
For both black and white children there was a bias toward good attributes being assigned to the lighter skin tones and negative attributes beings given to the darker skin tones. For those who Spike Lee described as "drinking the rainbow Kool-aid", those who thought a black president would mean the magical disappearance of racism , I guess such a study will come as a bit of a shock, a shock that shows little has changed in America. For people on the ground, especially those with darker skin I doubt there were any surprises.
Here in Egypt, from what I've seen in Hotelworld , the lines between people are well defined and the amount of skin pigment seems to be the deciding factor. I doubt I've ever been to a place where those lines seem to be so absolute. At the hotel reception desk, you find the lightest skinned Egyptians. The next shade is found in the restaurant serving us food morning and night. A bit darker and you will be cleaning the rooms. The next shade are the security officers and the darkest skin of all and you will find them on the golf course mowing the grass or applying the ubiquitous chemicals the massive field of green requires to keep alive in the desert.
It seems unbelievably cruel to have a life defined before you get started. I found it even sadder when the little black girl in the study was asked "Which child is the ugliest?" and she pointed to the darkest skin picture. When Anderson Cooper asked her why, she said "because black skin in nasty". She said it while looking at her own arm. Where did she learn that? But, more importantly, how can it be fixed?