Shades of Beige

March 26, 2010

“In like three hundred years there will be no white people. There will be no black people. There will be beige people”.

That was Russel Peters, a Canadian-Indian, stand-up comedian, and my cousin just introduced him to me. Or me to him.

On a breezy Friday afternoon, sat my two brothers and I. In a windowless living room where a miasma of stale air-conditioned air imposed itself on an otherwise cozy atmosphere. We were watching an Arabic movie when the doorbell rang.

In barged my two cousins, one with a USB drive clutched in one hand. I have him on my USB, he said with a hint of pride. Great, I said politely and unenthusiastically, thank you. Why don’t you put it on the big computer. (The big computer is my dad’s fancy Apple computer that currently (unbefittingly) resides in our living room, on our smallish dining table, because my dad’s office burned down last year along with half of our apartment and our living room was the only place willing to be a surrogate office).

The ‘him’ on the USB was Russel Peters. My cousin had asked me about him last Friday on our weekly Lunch at my grandmother’s and I said I had no idea what he was talking about. So he said he would introduce me. And so he did. Today.

Though it might seem that this is an entry about Peters, in (virtual) reality it isn’t. Not necessarily. It is just about one of his many race comments (race,not racist) that I thought was interesting because it reiterated a nebulas thought that I have been carrying around in my head for the past two years or so.

In a couple a hundred years there will be no white people. Only Beige. Mainly Beige.

That made me think of my Asian-American history professor married to an Algerian.

And of my other history professor, who is American-Egyptian and who was sometimes confusing in her lectures because she would say ‘we’ when she talked about Americans and ‘we’ when she talked about Egyptians.

It made me think of my Iraqi literature professor married to an American.

It made me think of the radiolab episode that mentioned the love-struck American man trying to track down his Chinese significant other in a hopeless-romantic sorta search in Peking.

Of my friend’s Egyptian relative who married a German girl.

Of my Egyptian relatives’ relatives (my uncle’s wife’s brother) marrying a Chinese woman.

Of my grandmother’s mother who was Austrian and married my grandmother’s father who was Egyptian.

It made me think of my dad’s clinic’s administrative manager who is Bahranian-Iranian and married to an Egyptian man.

And her sister who is married to Moroccan royalty.

It made me think of the Bangladeshi doctor and her British husband.

Not to mention the surly German woman of Iranian origins.

And many, many more that currently escape my frustratingly short and unreliable memory span.

And it was interesting because in a couple a hundred years there will be no white people. No black people. No brown brown. Or yellow yellow. Only a mix of all. Mainly a mix of all. Shades of Beige. And I wondered if beige would become the new white just like in fashion when pink became the new black (at some point, for some people). And I wondered for a little bit and then some more. And I didn’t know. And since I’m one God of Small Things short and it was only 11 PM and I had napped for the whole of two hours this afternoon, I wrote this entry instead.


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