Mohsin Hamid on Race as an Imagined Construct

Cressida Leyshon in The New Yorker:

This week’s story, “The Face in the Mirror,” is about a man named Anders who wakes one morning and discovers that his skin is no longer white. He’s now a dark man. Why did this scenario first come to you?

I spent most of the nineteen-seventies and most of the nineteen-nineties in America. I lived in liberal enclaves, attended prestigious schools, had a well-paying job. Then, after 9/11, I experienced a profound sense of loss. I was constantly stopped at immigration, held for hours at the airport, once pulled off a flight that was already on the tarmac. I had become an object of suspicion, even fear. I had lost something. And, over the years, I began to realize that I had lost my partial whiteness. Not that I had been white before: I am brown-skinned, with a Muslim name. But I had been able to partake in many of the benefits of whiteness. And I had been complicit in that system. Losing this forced me to consider things afresh. And over the next couple of decades that experience was the grain of debris in my mind’s oyster that this work began to accrue around.

More here.