Women is...: The Rainbow Generation

The Rainbow Generation

It was the first question, my mother asked me, when I told it, that I’d|| the met man in Dubayi which I wanted to marry.

“How black is he?”

I felt like I’d been hit in the solar plexus – that area of your stomach that, when hit, feels like the wind has been punched right out of you. I felt myself mentally stumble, pole axed by the irrelevancy of the question.

But instead of saying “What the hell do you mean ‘How black is he?’ What does it matter what colour he is?”

Instead of saying, “What matters is that he loves me, that I love him, that he’s a good man and we’ll be happy.”

Instead of saying any of these good things in answer to my mother’s question, “How black is he?” I said, “No darker than Simon (my brother). Not dark at all, a fair olive skin in fact” – to which I received a huge, relieved sigh – far more telling of her relief than anything she could have said.

Why did I back down? Why did I justify myself/justify Amjad instead of indignantly telling my mother that the colour of Amjad’s skin didn’t matter? Why did I cave in and say that Amjad wasn’t dark skinned at all? Why didn’t I say the powerful words, “So what if he is black?”

In part because I realized that if I’d said, “Who cares how black he is, what matters is that we’ll be happy” my mother would have said that the colour question was an important part of the ‘would be happy’ question.

She would be right if you look at the world as it was – the world as it was when she married.

So what defines our generation of women?

We love and hate based not on race or nationality but on issues. This is a huge change compared to my mother’s generation and I think that it’s something that defines our generation – a generation that sees itself increasingly as one which is comprised of international citizens, proud of their ancestry but feeling it is only a very small part of how we define ourselves.

I got married to my Palestinian husband in a South Indian dress with an exotic flower behind my ear – very Hawaiian! I completely confused our guests about ‘What I was trying to say’. In the world I’d like to create, that I think is coming, our guests wouldn’t be confused but rather amused or unfazed because they would all doing the same! So, we’d have a black guest who’d wear a sari and a Muslim headscarf or an Asian man who’d wear a dishdasha but who spoke Norwegian. What a wonderful world that would be!