There’s a young girl who wants to have blue eyes. Her wish is to have the eyes of Caucasian women in movies or those of Caucasian dolls. If so, she would be loved by everyone and no longer suffer from violence, she thinks. It’s a dream that cannot be come true, but she has a point. A white girl with blue eyes would have been treated fairly and lived with decency.
The black girl’s name is Pecola, one of the main characters of “The Bluest Eye,” the novel of Nobel Prize winner Tony Morrison. She has the wildest dream that cannot be realized unless she is reborn, but substandard circumstances surrounding Pecola drive her insane to believe she finally gets the blue eyes. The story is set in the 1940s, but this is hardly a thing of the past, as discrimination based on skin color still exists in today’s U.S. society.
In fact, other parts of the world including South Korea are also not free from discrimination. Kim Jae-young’s novel “Elephant” portrays a similar scene. A boy with a dark complexion who has a father from Nepal and a Korean-Chinese mother wants to whiten his skin so that he can walk around just like ordinary South Koreans, without attracting people’s attention. Then he would not be bullied or targeted by peers playing with toy guns. To do so, he washes his face with bleach every morning and looks in the mirror in the evening to see if his face has turned white.
Aspiring to blue eyes or washing the face with bleach hoping to have whiter skin may not take place commonly in reality. However, behind the somewhat exaggerated stories, we can find the shadows of discrimination and scars as indelible as in the fiction, if not worse. A community’s ethical capability would be measured by its efforts to remove, albeit slowly, such dark shadows.