Black as Evil

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 9 13:30:39 EST 2000

Prof. Shanmugalingam quoted:
It is well implanted in some that as Gary Zukav in his
book "The seat of the soul" said,
         "We associate white with purity, goodness and rightness.
White is the symbol of positive and protective energy. We dress
heroes and heroines in white. White represents wholeness of spirit.
We associate God, God's messengers and heaven with white. We picture
angels in robes of white. We associate black with evil. We dress
villains in black. Black is the symbol of destruction.  When
catastrophe strikes, we call it a black day. Black represents despair,
anger and rage, which are absences of love, compassion and forgiveness.
We say that a person who feels these things is in black mood."

Gary's clear-cut stereotyping may not fit in Indian
situations. Black like other colors has multiplex valency.
In Indian religions, black is energy. And, widows wear white,
not the heroines. White ghosts are feared. Super gods are
black. In Europe, Catastrophous days are black days,
whereas in india, black days when monsoon clouds darken the
sky are occasion for celebration. Peacocks and people dance.
In tamil, 'mA' = black, beauty, etc., 'irumai'=dark, great, ...


Europe's traditional thinking on Blacks:
" Black men became the butt of merciless censure by the
white man, from Noah's curse on Ham, whom first rabbinic
and then Protestant exegesis considered responsible for
the crimes of castration and incest, to the classification
of Linnaeus and the descriptions of several philosophers
of the Enlightenment. Blackness, and with it a great range
of evil associations, was contrasted with whiteness, as
was innocence with crime, vice with virtue, and bestiality
with humanity. The strength of the mutual temptations
between black and white can be inferred from the sternness
with which they are repressed, and social vetoes suggest
the strictness of a taboo which only stimulated the bio-sexual
attraction it was supposed to check. Classical Antiquity
had also made much of the sensuality and shamelessness
of Negroes, to whom recent science obstinately attributed
a monstrous penis. World literature, but especially that
of Anglo-Saxon countries from Shakespeare to Poe and
Melville - all of them in love with whiteness - acquaints
us with the leaps of imagination which associated black
skin with evil or with lubricity or, more plainly, with
the beast. Professor W. D. Jordan, whose majesterial
analyses we summarize, has also observed that when the
most primitive pssions sought expression through
pseudo-scientific generalizations, travellers' tales
were enough to transform fantasies about the bestiality
of the Blacks into anthropological theories. As it
happened, the first explorations of the Dark Continent
revealed the existence of not only of aborginal tribes
but of hordes of large anthropoid apes, and observers
were unable or unwilling to distinguish between the two.
A more common error than that of Rousseau who asked
himself whether these apes were not men was that of
Voltaire who assimilated the Negroes to the apes on the
strength of these same ingenuous and fanciful travellers'
[p. 135-6, Poliakov, The Aryan myth, 1974]

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