A viral TikTok trend has been accused of promoting colorism in India. It includes users getting their skin color digitally darkened and appearing sad- before showing their normal, lighter skin tone at the end and smiling.
Colorism is discrimination against people who have a darker skin tone or the unfair treatment of people who are of the same race but who are lighter skinned. A massive backlash has caused deletions and calls on TikTok to take down the videos.
The trend that began earlier this week has reignited a huge debate in India and beyond on colorism. It sees users lip-sync to a song from a Tamil movie named 3, with lyrics about a “white skin girl” with a “black heart,” and a gesture against their artificial skin tone. With the videos getting millions of views, the song has been used more than 21,000 times.
Radhika Parameswaran, a professor at the University of Indiana and colorism analyst, says this trend is detached from the original context:
“In the film, a beautiful light-skinned woman who has a “black heart” is impervious to the hero’s love. The song “did not explicitly refer to dark skin, but nevertheless Kolaveri Di’s catchy tunes and lyrics become creative fodder for these youths to stage their playful and dramatic performances of skin colour mutating from dark to light,” she said.
The community guidelines of TikTok state that users should not post “content that dehumanizes or incites violence or hatred towards individuals or groups.”
TikTok users around the globe have reacted to the trend.