by Maiko Takada
I would like to discuss about the issue of “betraying the race” by examining the discussion question from class.
The first question is “Does betraying the race happen not only when people try to whiten or lighten their skin color, but also when people try to get tanned or darken their skin color?” My answer is, “It depends on the purpose or reason that you change the skin color”. In the case of South Africa, one’s racial category determined most life outcomes. Whiteness, purity, and social power are strongly connected. However, if your skin color was black, you are not able to get well-paid job or higher social status. In addition, people do not see you as an attractive person because of your skin color. Therefore, black people are eager to whiten their skin color. In other words, they aim to racial uplift by using skin lighteners as technologies. On the other hand, in the case of white people or Japanese, they go to the beach or pool side to get tanned because they enjoy seasonal benefit or vacation. Those ideas are similar with “Eat watermelon because it is summer” or “Let’s have a massage because we are vacationing at hotel”. It is clear that they are not trying to darken their skin to live in better life in the society. The differences between the two cases are that denying own feature or changing appearance for fun. People get tanned not because they are denying their skin color but black people abandon their blackness and eager to whiten the skin color. In conclusion, if people are not proud of their natural skin color and try to get tanned to change the race, this would be called “betraying the race”.
Second is “Are there any action which are seen as a betraying the race besides changing the skin tone?” Hair straighter, color contacts, and high heels were suggested as the examples in the class. When I was in high school, there were many girls who use hair curler because they think they look cuter with curly hair than straight hair. American celebrity Taylor Swift sometimes appears with straight hair although her hair is naturally curly. One of my Japanese friends showed up with gray eyes and said that she is wearing color contacts which she wanted to have for a long time. I can see many girls in high heels at the university, station, or shopping mall. In my opinion, those cases are closer to the case of getting tanned than using skin lighteners in South Africa. Because they seem like they just enjoy the fashion. Thus, I do not think people are betraying the race in this case. However, as Misa explained in the class, if Japanese people wear blue color contacts to pretend different race for example, then it could be “betraying the race”.