Speaking as a white man, don’t we have ghastly complexions? Par-baked like those bread rolls you can buy in supermarkets, we look like not quite the finished product. Glancing at the person opposite on the Tube the other day, I thought “if only I could be that colour”. He was in his late thirties, maybe, south Asian, maybe Sri-Lankan; and his skin was that beautiful golden brown that whispers that this is how humans were supposed to look.Weetabix, I should explain, is a breakfast cereal popular in Airstrip One for many decades. It was my favorite as a child over there, mainly because the box featured a panel with shapes you could cut out, fold, and slot together to make a car or a truck. (We didn't have iPads in 1953, you understand.)
White is just wrong for skin — a kind of mutation, as though some key pigment was missing from birth. It looks inbred. I met a girl when I was younger called Weetabix (she said her rural Nigerian parents had wanted her to have an English name, and chose one at the general store) who described sleeping with a white man as being like “sleeping with a skinned animal”: semi-transparent with the blood vessels visible. The awful mental image has never left me.
And as you get older (if you’re white) you realise that a white skin is like a white carpet: it shows all the stains and blemishes. White youths enjoy a sort of mayfly summer, looking an enviable milky alabaster for about half an hour — before they blotch and smudge and scuff and smear and pimple and flush and rash and scratch and mottle themselves into shop-soiled old age. My number one colour would be caramel, closely followed by the almost inky black of the Turkana tribe I once travelled among in northern Kenya.
Come on, admit it, whiteys: if you were God designing the human animal, your brush poised above the divine palette, would you really go for just-crawled-out-from-under-a-stone off-white? Sallow sucks. [If I had a choice, I wouldn't be a whitey by Matthew Parris; Times (U.K.), October 21st 2015.]
Controlling interest in Weetabix is now held by Bright Food, a Chinese government state-owned enterprise.