Vaseline's latest marketing campaign, largely targeted at south Asia but accessible globally, will probably make you uncomfortable. It's a Facebook application that whitens the skin of photos that users upload of themselves.
I've been thinking about this since I heard about it, but it's important to note that the preference for fair skin pre-exists the colonial encounter by a couple of thousand years. It starts with the Vedas and then carries on through poetry and music (which were largely inextricable in 'Indian culture'). In fact, to call someone 'meri gori' - which transliterates as 'my fair-skinned one - is another way of saying my sweetheart or whatever.
The class/labour issue is definitely all there, but so is caste, which isn't the entirely the same thing as class (i.e. its dynamics function in a sphere that isn't just socio-economic). Oh also, the colourism is also linked with the Aryan/Dravidian divide that is also largely the North/South divide which is also a Sanskrit-derived langauge vs. Tamil-derived language divide and so on and so on...
[T]his isn't just a question of race or imperialism or eurocentrism, but is a lot more layered and messy. Which just makes it a thousand times harder to change.
This article available online at: