Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye explores why in a pluralistic society, under the pretense of being tolerant, we still prefer “whiteness” in our magazines and on our TV screens.

Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist, wrote and published her first book, The Bluest Eye, in the year 1970. In Morrison’s novel, she investigates what happens to a young, black girl living under the “white gaze” of 1940s America. The novel tells the story of an 11-year-old girl, Pecola Breedlove, who wants to have blue eyes because she views herself as ugly. It’s a female Bildungsroman, telling her story as she grows up, black and female, in a racially discriminatory America. In the novel, Morrison unabashedly challenges western standards of beauty and demonstrates that the concept is socially constructed. Morrison’s novel was inspired by one of her black classmates who wished for blue eyes, much like Pecola. She thus wrote the novel to explore the roots and effects of racial self-loathing, wondering, “Who told her [classmate]? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?” Thus, Morrison’s novel is an attempt to “peck away at the gaze that condemned her”.

Morrison goes on to offer a decisive critique on the homogenising effect of the white aesthetic so prevalent in most of our cultures in the world. She rejects the beauty of the white consumer culture because it separates women “from reality”. Women of colour start internalising the crippling notions of beauty that this white culture propagates. This perpetuation of the dominant culture’s aesthetics and tastes, their standards of beauty and fairness, have always and still continue to contribute to racial tensions. The novel, in its endeavour to question the yardsticks of socially constructed notions of beauty, makes the reader confront his or her own reality.

Not only is the novel beautifully written, Morrison’s prose being so vivid, she is also able to implicate the reader in the destruction of this little girl and her dream to be “beautiful”. Morrison’s contempt for the racial bias in popular American culture, and her rejection of a white-defined form of female beauty are reflected well in her first novel. Pecola’s mother, Pauline, also internalises the damaging racial self-loathing because such has been the coloniser’s influence over the “weaker” masses. The coloniser goes on to “invisibalise” the “other”.

One’s visibility thus gets knotted with one’s beauty. In The Bluest Eye, Pecola’s self, her presence as a subject, remains unrecognised by those who have absorbed the white standards of visual attractiveness. In the tragic swamp of alienation, Pecola’s only saviour, her blue eyes, are ironically also symbolic of the colonial instrument of oppression. What strikes one as being crucial here is the homogenising effect that white culture creates. Much of it is interestingly manufactured as a product of western capitalism. Rampant consumerism, movies’ and media’s role are to be blamed for the skewed notions of reality which people of all colours embrace. Thomas Fick argues in his essay, entitled “Toni Morrison’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’: Movies, Consumption, and Platonic Realism in The Bluest Eye” (2000), that, “Movies are the centrally destructive force in [The Bluest Eye] not only because of the values they present but because of the way they present them: as flawless archetypes above and outside the shadowy world of everyday life.”

Despite the increasing presence of black celebrities, the white aesthetic still strongly defines beauty and worth in today’s racist culture. Many of the contemporary black celebrities, such as Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Vanessa Williams, and others, are whitewashed to appeal to white audiences, thereby denying the black body. Famous black women are often anglicised on the covers of magazines: their hair and skin lightened and curls straightened. “Just as English has become the lingua franca of the world, so the white, blondified, small-nosed, pert-breasted, long-legged body is coming to stand in for the great variety of human bodies that there are,” comments Susie Orbach, a British psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, writer, and social critic.

Media conglomerates thus fabricate lies. Advertisers clutch on to insecurity as a selling tool, instead of embracing empowerment. The many fairness cream advertisements and products, advertisements for silkier and shinier hair, hairless bodies, skinny bodies, and many other campaigns hold testimony to this. It is the coloniser’s body which echoes on our television screens, which we consciously choose to watch.

What The Bluest Eye as a piece of literature does is to subvert the “white gaze”. What we, as self-aware citizens in this world of majoritarianism, must do is to resist and disrupt the gaze. Morrison, time and again, does it with her words. As Adrienne Rich once said, “This is the oppressor’s language, yet I need to talk to you.”


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Ankita Dhar Karmakar
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Donald Trump has been inviting quite a bit of antagonism from the world. While some of his policies can still be comprehended, the others seem to date back to ancient Greece. He has managed to consciously alienate almost the entire 34.6 million Mexican American populations as he sees them as economic parasites. While Donald Trump’s own wife is an immigrant, the basic vendetta is to not let the poverty that the Mexicans bring with them burn large holes in the American taxpayers’ entitlements. He has specifically targeted the Mexicans for majority brutal crimes in the country claiming that 2011 saw about 3 million arrests in the same regard.

Trump’s grand solution is to build a wall, not a metaphorical wall, an actual concrete wall. This wall is said to cost way more than the 8 billion dollars he claims it will. The Mexican Government will be forced to pay for their own misery. Until they make this payment, there will be a series of continuous attempts to drive them out of the country by suffocating them with revised policies. These policies include: Impounding all remittances payments, increasing fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increase fees of border crossing cards, increase the fees on all NAFTA worker visas.

The actual cost predicted by experts is said to be over 25 billion dollars and is most likely to increase a considerable amount over the years as maintenance costs will float above the countries like an ominous cloud.

Trump’s reign wants to get rid of all supposed unwanted weeds through deportation. Mexican and non Mexican immigrants make up a population of 11.2 million and driving them out of the country will take an easy 20 years costing the government an incredibly large sum of 400 to 600 billion dollars. It’s safe to say that the Mexicans now perceive Trump as a clown. Many single women dependent on their kids who send them means of livelihood from across the border will lose their survival in a flash.

Responses to Trump’s campaign are getting more and more predictable by the day. Even Pammi Aunty back in India is now trashing the candidate in her hilarious lassi dipped vines, comparing him to the sinister ‘Mother in law’ who seems to dislike everyone for a reason only they can understand.

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Baani Kashyap
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The bustling streets of New York. The decadence of Los Angeles. The allure of Las Vegas. Yes, most Indians have a mini emotional drama when thinking about the United States of America. This deep rooted obsession with the land of the whites raises yet another question, ‘why are we in such a hurry to live the American dream’, ‘why is it so important to replace New Delhi with New York?’

Since the dawn of mankind, every decade, one Homo Sapien has done something innovative and the others have followed suit. And so, many years ago, one smart ass decided to ditch the Indian soils for the virgin land overseas and ever since then every Indian has been fishing for his golden ticket to the wonderland of America.

Is it the cleaner roads, the so called better infrastructure or just the thrill of rolling your ‘R’s to infinity? Whatever be the reason, India can’t get enough of America. Our directors run off to America every chance they get, just to make a love story that would have been just as pathetic if it was shot in Nehru Park as it did in Central Park. The rich Indian ‘elite’ can’t bear the thought of having their children study in mediocre Indian colleges but they have no qualms with packing them off to down trodden American ‘schools’. The superstars who’ll throw the biggest tantrum if asked to arrive at an inauguration on time don’t mind waiting in line with the other junior artists for the most insignificant role in the Hollywood biggies. And, most importantly, we can’t wait to flaunt the six packs and the bikinis on the beaches of Miami when we haven’t even seen the breath taking backwaters of Kerala!

India has seen the most phenomenal growth in the past few years and true, we have our ups and downs but all said and done, an Indian can never feel more at home than India. Even though America is a gold mine, there are somethings that an Indian cannot experience in on any other continent- getting wet in the rain and then getting stuck for hours in traffic with your closest friends because of water logging, eating bhel puri (not the packed one, but the roadside one), bargaining at Janpath to buy things you don’t really need and countless experiences such as these! But again, not to sound one dimensional and maintaining the tempo, India has its credentials too. The economy, which is kind of brackish at the moment, is bubbling with opportunities. Anyone who wants to start afresh, this is the place. We have the most beautiful women in the world (and no, I don’t just mean Aishwarya Rai). We have some amazing colleges (the top ones, that is)-actually that’s the thing, we have a certain amount of good colleges and twenty students vying for one seat, so if you make it, kudos! And most importantly, we are young (no, not the statistics that state India has a huge workforce on the younger side). I mean, we’ve just started. We can devote the next fifty years to doing things our way! We have a value system, some moral standards and if something is disagreeable, change it. You don’t like unpunctuality-great, be ten minutes early. You don’t like the littered roads, then stop throwing those wrappers on the streets!

After over six decades of throwing away the tag of being a colonial state and after three decades of realizing that the politicians are useless, it is, perhaps, time to be the change instead of asking for it. It is the era of Indian dreams!

Most of the people sporting colourful LiveStrong Bands on their wrists are blissfully unaware of the message these simple strips of plastics convey. Lance Armstrong, the man who fought against Testicular Cancer and yet lived to continue his journey as the Iconic Road-racing Cyclist and Triathlete, wasstripped off his laurels, including the seven prestigious Tour De France titles, after being suspected of using drugs to enhance his performance. Once the coin flipped, a man who was the face of strength after his overwhelming recovery from a terminal disease is now a black mark on the American mantle of greatest sports personalities. Even his wealthy sponsors have turned their back to him, watching in embarrassment as the legend’s name is slowly wiped off history’s wall of fame.

To be an icon is almost synonymous with having no personal life. Media hawks, the government, the critics, as well as the ardent fans wait for the moment their revered star stumbles.The minute there is a personal blemish on his or her perfect record, there is absolutely no scope for improvement. The press released the multitude of extra-marital affairs of the golfing giant Tiger Woods, bringing him down to his knees. The world condemned him for being a promiscuous playboy, a fact that should’ve been left to his bedroom instead of being plastered across newspapers and websites for weeks. A man known and well appreciated for his Golf was suddenly less of a star due to his personal weaknesses, which had absolutely nothing to do with his achievements in his sport.

Political leaders are not spared either. Mohandas Gandhi’s memory is now being defiled by constant comments on his personal activities. A man who claimed to lead a simple and austere life shocked the country when reports of his sexual experiments were revealed. As unnerving as that might have been, what people fail to understand is that Gandhi was known for his non-violent victory against colonial rule in India, not for whether or not he remained a chaste man. As scandalous and reproachful as his personal life might seem, there is no denying that he was an extraordinary man who played a major role in bringing India its much-delayedfreedom. Armstrong’s case might be a bit different as failing the dope test is a huge deal in the sporting world, yet it seems quite unfair to forget his highly inspiring fight against cancer, something that kindled faith in the hearts of innumerable people across the globe.

“We will move forward,” announced Lance Armstrong as he continues to claim his innocence, words that seem to echo the hopes of all those iconic men and women who were punished for having human flaws. The only thing left to see is whether the Plastic bands continue to Live-strong on wrists across the world.


The deplorable episode of cold-blooded slaying of six innocent Sikhs by a white supremacist skinhead Wade Michael Page in a gurudwara in Wisconsin can’t be dismissed as a sheer paradigm of hate crime incident. Apparently, the fact that it has broached more than a few imperative questions is difficult to neglect.

While the precise motivations of this outlandish act are yet to be indentified, the reports that the killer had been a leader of a xenophobic white-power group connote it wasn’t just a random attack but one that was accurately deliberated to single out a community for its dissimilarity or rather for its misconceived proximity, in terms of corporeal peculiarity, to Islamist fundamentalists.

Unfortunately, Sikhs – one of the initial Asian communities in North America – have confronted such vandalism and dogmatism ever since 9/11 when racial bigots began to see in them a semblance to Osama Bin Laden, predominantly because of their turban and beard. In this context, no one is oblivious to the infamous case of Balbir Singh Sodhi – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona – who was shot dead four days after the towers crumbled, allegedly by a man who sought retaliation.

However, this is not the sole example of Sikh community being under attack in the disguise of ‘patriotism’. In a report last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center – a nonprofit civil rights organization committed to combating hate and bigotry- reported quite a few assaults and incidents of arson at Sikh temples after September 11.

This sort of killing rampage is undeniably a catastrophe, and it is so not only for six people who lost their lives or their aggrieved families or for that matter the Sikh community but also for United States as a nation which is often reckoned an impeccable specimen of juxtaposed cultures and religions – a product of large-scale immigration from various countries. It poses a question on the credibility of the country in protecting people of all races, as promised in its Constitution.

Although it might sound mordant but one of the concrete reasons for such crisis finds its roots in the laws that confer upon civilians a right to carry guns without any complications. Paradoxically, a law was passed in Wisconsin last year that gave liberty to the inhabitants to purchase a handgun or firearm with much ease. The 9 mm semi-automatic handgun found at the sight of the incident is just a metaphor of how prolific are the implications of this law. Even the rationale that probable victims need guns for their fortification sounds nothing more than ridiculous.

We can keep deriving the political insinuations of the occurrence but what needs vital attention is that the Sikh community has for a long, long time quietly endured the pain of wounds they never inflicted and it’s high time that both the United States government as well the Indian government take measures to ensure that no discrimination of any sort is met out to this community anymore.


Vatsal Verma
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Once upon a time there existed a brain within each member of the Middle Eastern civilization. In a series of clandestine correspondences with God, this civilization arranged to have its brains exchanged for bottomless reserves of oil and thus the present day Middle East was born. Iraq is quite a bona fide member of this agglomeration being, as it is, full to the brim with A grade idiots. Although being an idiot is not as rewarding as, say, not being an idiot, it does help in quick decision making. An Iraqi idiot, much like a non-Iraqi idiot, does not, when considering whether or not to bean someone with a shoe, think along the lines of Newton’s third law. He just takes aim and deploys; often mere seconds separating inception and execution. It is rumoured that George Bush has researched deeply on this subject.

In 2008, after having dumped half of the ACME Inc.’s annual output on Iraq, Bush decided that a personal touch would top it all off. It was while Bush was busy inflicting his presence, a weapon unparalleled in its potency, on poor Iraq that the idea of putting footwear or two across him made its debut in the mind of an Iraqi journalist. Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion, all the interim may well have been like a phantasma or a hideous dream for Brutus, but for the Iraqi journalist it was a stroll in the park. And a quick stroll at that, for hardly had the idea made itself comfortable in the journalist’s brain, when it received the green signal and two shoes promptly made their way towards the Bush
forehead one after the other.

In supposing that Bush on perceiving footwear bearing down on him would turn to stone, the Iraqi was mistaken. His face has that quality, experts say, which makes it extremely difficult for shoes not to beam towards it. The upshot is that while most human beings, on finding a shoe or two hurtling towards them at remarkable speed, utter a sharp, ‘Oh golly!’ and promptly turn to stone, George Bush in a similar situation, reacts with a blasé ‘you again’ and initiates an evasive manoeuvre. Just when the journalist thought that he had effected a perfect lovers’ reunion, Bush’s latest evasive manoeuvre lay his efforts to waste. Further by sacrificing both his shoes for the cause, the Iraqi has declared himself a non-starter for a column such as this. The author thus has no alternative but to fill up Bush’s shoes.

George Bush has been the go to punching bag for some time now. If talk shows run out of issues or people to malign, they automatically turn to Bush bashing to pass the time. Although Bush has done enough by way of mass murders to deserve most of the vitriol, one has to understand that it wasn’t all his fault. Different men like to do different things with their free time. Some listen to music, others might enjoy reading. Similarly when George Bush has time on his hands, he just enjoys destroying countries and killing people. One can’t really blame him for that. The society does not call out people who listen to Beiber and blast them in public even though it accepts that the aforesaid is a much bigger crime. Be that as it may, we conclude that everything else remaining the same, Bush is happier when countries are being destroyed. But, could he have done anything different with regards to the shoe incident to ensure his happiness?

If I were in his place, I would have resisted the temptation of not being hit on the face by a shoe and taken one of the projectiles on the chin. Apart from the fact that a sole imprint would vastly improve the aesthetics of Bush’s face, there are other benefits to be had from getting hit by a shoe. Below I list a series of events which would realise these benefits.

Event 1- Shoe connects with Bush’s face.
Event 2- Bush storms back to America. Condemns the incident as being the worst attack on USA. He discusses arms proliferation and how its child’s play nowadays to acquire shoes.
Event 3- It is found that the propensity to pelt shoes is a communicable disease and thus for the sake of global peace and security, the whole of Iraq will have to be eliminated.
Event 4- The Middle Eastern civilization has always believed in excellence in the art of producing children. People are expected to put in their best and come up with at least four. In fact people with less than four children are looked down upon and often stoned to death. The upshot is that Iraqi journalists in general, though lacking in brains are richly endowed with siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts spread out throughout the Middle East. Bush makes quite a compelling case for attacking the whole of Middle East. He says that skills such as shoe pelting run in the family. If an Iraqi journalist can throw a shoe, so can all his cousins, siblings, uncles and aunts.
Event 5- America attacks Middle East. Bush and the owners of ACME Inc. execute the most effervescent samba ever.