Priyanka Chopra, Bollywood Stars Under Fire for Protesting Racism While Endorsing Whitening Creams

Bollywood actors, including Priyanka Chopra, showed their support for Black Lives Matter by taking part in Blackout Tuesday on social media and have shared several messages denouncing racism. However, social media, particularly Indians criticized many of them for endorsing skin-lightening creams, which are still available in India. Others were called out for protesting racism in the U.S. but not protesting a controversial discriminatory citizenship law at home.

Chopra, who is married to Nick Jonas, took to social media last week to share George Floyd's last words, "Please, I can't breathe." In the accompanying caption, she told her millions of followers that everyone has a "responsibility to educate ourselves and end this hate" and called on everyone in the U.S. and around the world to "end this race war." She also wrote, "Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, NO ONE deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin color."

More than 400,000 Instagram users liked the post, but the most liked comment criticized her for remaining silent on issues in India. "Sorry, but you never spoke against mob lynching, Kashmir lockdown, hundreds of transphobic & homophobic actors/films you have worked with or in, and Misogyny," the person wrote in a comment that now has more than 2,000 likes. "But you have triggered nuclear war between neighbouring countries. Just wondering, why are you so rebellious?"

On Twitter, one user published a viral thread of Bollywood stars who endorse whitening creams right next to their posts supporting racial equality. Others noted that actors remained quiet when India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. The controversial act discriminates against Muslims, and inspired protests throughout India, as many found it against the country's founding secular principles.

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Actor Abhay Deol joined those criticizing his colleagues. In a blistering Instagram post, Deol called out the "woke" Indian celebrities who spoke out against U.S. racial injustices to stand up against similar injustices in India. "America has exported violence to the world, they have made it a more dangerous place, it was but inevitable that it would come back karmically," Deol wrote. "I'm not saying they deserve it, I’m saying look at the picture in it’s totality." He went on to suggest it would be more helpful for Indians to call out the "systemic problems in your own country" because they are so similar. "There is not a country that’s real. But a planet in peril," Deol wrote.

In another post, Deol asked fellow actors to stop endorsing fairness creams. "Do you think Indian celebrities will stop endorsing fairness creams now?" he asked. Deol included a list of companies still making fairness creams, including Ponds, Neutrogena and Procter & Gamble's Olay. It was only last year that Procter & Gamble said it will stop retouching skin in advertising by 2021 "because it reflects an idea of beauty which is almost impossible to achieve," Deol shared.