David Alan Grier: Is beige the new black?
Comedian writes about how Obama has made being multiracial cool
Every pundit from Larry King to Atlantic magazine agrees: black is in. All shades of black. Which is good for most people, because so many of us are of mixed race. Myself included. It’s mind-boggling that we have ended up here, at this point in our history. There was a time, only a few generations ago, that being of mixed race was not so cool. In fact, it was illegal to try to pass yourself off as a different race. If the authorities found out, you lost everything — your position, your home, and all your possessions. You’d be separated from your family and often lynched.
President Barack Obama has changed all that. People now want to be mixed. Bi-racial, tri- racial, quad- and quinti-racial, how many you got? The more the better. Multiracial is the hot new facial, the best look in the book. Mixed race is the new superrace. If you look too black, people seem disappointed. They look at you and say, “You’re just black. Oh. That’s too bad. Are you sure? Anything else in there?”
They’re looking for the Obama mix. It’s like a new kind of coffee. “We just came up with it. Try this. The new Obama roast. It’s the perfect blend. Strong, but not sharp. Seductive. Bold. Sweet. Smooth. And not too dark. Not like that Dikembe Mutombo roast they’re brewing across the street.”
And why not be black like Barack? He’s the coolest guy on the planet right now. He’s bigger than any rapper, more popular than any rock star. He’s huge. We admire him and kids aspire to be like him.
…It’s still hard to get my head around this, though, the idea of acceptance that comes with the Barack Obama presidency. There is a part of me that acknowledges — and remembers, historically — that people of color who tried to deny any part of themselves were suspect. They would have to make a decision and stick with it. If it was found out that they were denying a part of themselves, they would be accused of running away from themselves and be rejected by their own. We’re looking at a whole new playing field as of right now. You can embrace all the parts of you. You can say, forthrightly, “I am who I am. I am all my parts,” or even, “I am all my parts, but I am embracing this particular one. This is who I am.” And we, as a people, will embrace it as well.
Excerpted from “Barack Like Me” by David Alan Grier with Alan Eisenstock. Copyright (c) by David Alan Grier.