I come up with a lot of interesting ideas out of nowhere, it seems, when I run for distance running training. This was something I came up with today. It’s a practical joke idea that could be funny, but also a bit discomforting in a symbolic sort of way given race relations the way they are these days. It doesn’t make fun of people’s skin colour, but gets people thinking about it. It could work for Caucasian people as well, but probably not nearly as effectively.
What you need to do is go to the paint section of a hardware store, or the hardware section of a department store like Wal-mart, and find an attendant to help you pick out a colour to paint your room.
When the person asks what colour you were looking for the colour that best matches the colour of your skin.
Yes, the colour that best matches the colour of your skin.
And you are dead serious if the attendant doubts and asks.
Probably not nice to attack back in asking if there were anything wrong with painting your room the colour of your skin. Just keep them slightly uncomfortable and carry on to see the prank through to its end.
If the attendant asks why, tell him/her it’s because you want to feel more blended into your surroundings when you’re at home. You don’t feel that way out in the world as you’re profiled, targeted and monitored for all kinds of things, from shoplifting to violence to other things frowned upon, automatically linked to you cause of the colour of your skin. You just want to feel like you can blend in somewhere in the world, and your room is the ultimate place you’ve got.
Or you could give a more ridiculous answer like you want to increase your chances of not being found if the cops raid your house looking for you. Probably harder to keep a straight face going through this channel, though. Or create your own answer for why you might be doing this.
The fun will really start when you can convince the attendant to embark on a search for that colour which best matches your skin colour. See if they ask what colour you consider your skin to be, or if they’ll just call you black, brown, yellow or some other colour. See how they go about suggesting colours, like if they choose a lighter shade to not offend you. They would have to be nervous to suggest anything, I would suspect, given there’s a potentially explosive reaction coming back if you don’t agree, like if you were insulted cause it was too dark.
Now, if you belonged to an ethnic group associated with a skin colour, like blacks with African descent ethnicity, or red with First Nations ethnicity, see if the colour chosen is called black or red. It’s likely not, at which time, ask the attendant why they thought your people were called black or red skinned when the colour is clearly not. See what he/she tells you. They probably haven’t thought too much on this issue. 🙂
Ultimately, you’re going to find a colour that “best” matches the colour of your skin, whether it matches well or not. That will depend on what paint systems the store carries and what colours are in those systems. At this point, you’re going to need an “out” so as not to buy the paint. You probably don’t want to tell the attendant this was a joke, or even social experiment. They might not like you for it, though you can be assured you made their day interesting and gave them a story to tell many people!
To exit from the prank without telling the attendant it was one, just tell them you will keep their suggestion in mind, but want to see if other stores had a better options. Make it more real by asking for swatches of the colour/s you decided on, or a book of the paint system (palette) cause many stores have them to give away. Maybe even ask them if they knew of hardware stores which carried other paint systems you can check out, to confirm your seriousness about this. Indeed, if you liked the experience enough, you might actually even follow up on that advice and try this again! 🙂
Note: I am not Caucasian, but I have not tried this joke, either. It’s all theoretical to me right now. If you were Caucasian, this prank would probably work better with a non-Caucasian attendant, to see which shade of white or off-white is recommended to you, or even maybe even some pink shade if you blush easily during the prank. 🙂