Book thoughts

A colorful reflection

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is a collection of essays written by Scaachi Koul, and by collection of essays, I mean gems crafted to shine some light in the world. Scaachi’s essays range on topics from dreadful weddings, less than relaxing vacations, the middle school anxiety we have all faced, field notes for being brown, and many of the residents residing in her heart. All of these essays express her fear, anxiety, and love. Reading this book will give you tears from either laughing or crying.

Scaachi and I on the surface are really different. She is brown. I am black. She grew up and lives in Canada. I am from America. Her parents are immigrants. My ancestors have been in this country for generations (and did not come here willingly).

But I think that is the beauty of essay collections. You can get a glimpse into the author’s lives and though you may be different, you can connect with them in some way. To me, this is the definition of the human connection and this seems to be a theme in my life.

She is Brown. I am Black. I think it’s so fascinating how political colors become. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

I know I think a lot about what it means to be Black, but what does it mean to be Brown? I feel like with being Black, it is an easier concept to grasp: someone descended from the African Diaspora that may or may not encompass other races, ethnicities, or colors. Ok maybe it is not as simple as I reduced it to.

Brown is a descriptor typically used for both people of Latin American descent (I mean technically more than that, but that’s a whole lot to explain the difference between Spanish, Latinx, and Hispanic) and South Asian/Indian (I never use the term Indian to describe Native/Indigenous folks) descent. But Black people can also be Brown. And people from the Middle East are Brown. And indigenous people all over the world can also be Brown. And some Europeans can also be Brown. Any one can be Brown with the right amount of sun and genetics.

Brown can be a universal people color, but it is politically loaded to only include a few people. Especially here in America with it’s contentious racial relationships. And I guess Canada too, even if they tend to be better at hiding it.

I didn’t include all the other people who could technically be considered Brown as a way to minimize or erase Scaachi’s experiences as being Brown, but that’s just it. Being Brown is an experience, no matter the level of racism you think you may or may not have experienced in your life. Just like being Black is an experience.

These experiences do not eradicate your sense of culture or language or what you like/dislike or who you are. Your experience of being Brown or Black or even White are based on how the rest of the world’s perception of you and how they have been socialized to code that information accordingly.

I also think this is why transracial identity is crap. White people may be able to be Brown, but they are always afforded the privilege of becoming White again should they choose to and Black and Brown folks don’t have that choice. And if they do things like straighten their hair or bleach their skin, it’s rooted in assimilating as a form of survival or being socialized to hate your browness.

So, while Scacchi is Brown and I am Black, we are still coded as other. I may not be able to understand all of the nuances she mentioned being Brown, but I do feel otherness.

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