Mom And Dad, I’m Gray
The eighth color of the rainbow.
Mom and Dad,
This is hard for me, so I’m going to come out and say it — I’m gray.
I’m not one of those fancy grays, with an exotic name like “marengo.” I’ll never be listed on a paint swatch as charcoal. I’m utilitarian, a real basic bitch. Think of me as builder-grade carpet or a strip of duct tape.
Perhaps you’ve always known. Maybe you noticed that I never take my shirt off at the beach, lest I silver in the sun. One of my friends was called tinfoil while stepping out of the sea. Some jerks joked that they could bake a potato on her chest.
It’s hard living in grayscale. Even my so-called allies use words like dreary or listless to describe grays, sometimes when I’m sitting right there. I get it, we all love blues and greens, but all colors matter. I can’t wait for the day when people see gray hair and think of wisdom not age, when they thank clouds for a reprieve from the sun instead of blaming them for impending rain.
Grayness isn’t new. In the animal kingdom some of the smartest creatures are gray, like dolphins, monkeys, and parrots. Even rats are brighter than people assume. And there’s a reason that elephants never forget.
In humans, gray culture peaked in the 1980s with the release of desktop computers and Game Boy. In the blink of an eye, we went from drab to futuristic. Billion dollar companies like IBM and Nintendo showcased us in their ads.
Today, the possibilities are endless. There are warm grays (the nicest!), and cool grays, and these mysterious off grays. And more and more, we’re seeing grays tinted with different colors, like greens, browns, and oranges. Though some never swirl and that’s okay too. Grays of all kinds are leading happy, ordinary lives.
Grays can be classified by our HSV, RGB or Hex Triplet code. Have I lost you yet? We are literally a color without color. It’s hard falling outside of the binary and it’s a concept that’s new to many people — myself included — so it’s no wonder I’m so confused.
Things would be easier if I were one of those platinum grays. People get lost in their luster and forget the tired stereotypes. But most grays don’t shine. We’re not all prized gemstones. We’re the pebbles on your driveway, the rubber on your floor mats.
We’re everywhere and nowhere. Occasionally we stand out, but, usually, we’re the accent color, designed to bring out the best in those around us. We’re the bass guitar in a rock band. People may not quite understand what we do, but will notice when we’re missing.
The only thing I ask is that you never refer to me as grey. I realize some activists have tried to reclaim the spelling, but to me it will always be a slur. And if you really want to be progressive, avoid referring to grays as intermediate colors. It’s technically correct, but it makes us feel like middle-school kids.
Please understand that this isn’t your fault. Most interracial parents produce offspring that look like Barack Obama, not Bugs Bunny. Despite what the preachers say, some people are born this way. We’re gray, we’re okay, get used to it!
This may seem like a lot to take in, but at the end of the day nothing has changed. I’m the same child you’ve always loved — an achromatic soul in a sea of color. Sure, I’m a bit dreary, but in the right light I pop.
With all my love,