A little behind in the race

The “special bridal issue” of a local magazine that gets stuffed into our newspaper every now and then arrived today. Good timing, I thought, as I happen to be writing a novel called Malibu Bride and therefore have to know something about bridal issues.

A quick perusal revealed pages drowning in white. Unfortunately, I’m not just referring to the color of the gowns, but also to the color of the brides.

I counted 53 brides depicted in editorial and advertising content over 114 pages and two covers. Among them were one plus-size bride, one line-drawing bride, one little girl dressed up as a bride and two black-and-white photos of real-life brides. But no black brides.

No Asian brides, either. Or Hispanic ones.

Odd, when you consider that one out of three of Milwaukee County’s one million residents is African American, one out of seven is Latino and one out of twenty-five is Asian. In raw numbers, that’s 300,000, 137,000 and 40,000 people—almost half the population.

I seldom go for an entire day without having some contact with people whose roots span the globe. You’d think someone at the magazine would have noticed the incongruity of having its representation of brides so thoroughly out of whack with the community profile.

Maybe it’s because the theme of the issue is “classic styles of the ’60s invade modern bridal fashion.” But I’m pretty sure I remember seeing black people when I was a kid. And I have no doubt that a significant number of them were married.

I haven’t brought up the topic of race in the Fast Lane novels before, but it is something I’m proud of. At the beginning of Palm Springs Heat, two members of The Rotation—Fast Lane C.E.O. Clay Creighton’s contingent of temporary constant companions—are minorities: Sun, who is Asian, and Taequanda, who is black. Lara replaces Sun in The Rotation, but before that, it’s clear that Sun is Clay’s confidante. Lara, in the meantime, regards Taequanda as the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen. The two become fast friends—and Taequanda takes on an expanded role in Malibu Bride, a.k.a. Fast Lane Romance #2.

Furthermore, Sushma, a heavy in Palm Spring Heat and the heroine in Malibu Bride, is Indian, born and raised in Mumbai.

The point is that women who are smart and/or beautiful come from all over. You may find fault with many of Fast Lane’s ideals and philosophies, but you absolutely cannot accuse it of being anything less than an equal opportunity employer. Especially since many of the the women who used to be in The Rotation have gone on to occupy Fast Lane’s executive offices and play important roles in the company’s success.

I’ve never said a word about Lara’s ethnicity, but my ridiculously brief and incomplete research tells me that her name traces its roots from ancient Greece through modern Russia. It’s currently big in Eastern Europe, Australia, the U.K. and Spanish-speaking countries.

So is Lara Romanian? Irish? Hispanic? She could be the latter, you know. Cameron Diaz is as blond-haired and blue eyed as they come. But, for now, I’m not saying. Because, for one, I’m not sure. And, for two, what difference does it make?

It’s a different story, though, if you’re talking about the bridal issue of a magazine published in a community where half the people don’t look like Cameron Diaz. I mean, how hard could it have been to have graced an altar or two with models who resemble Eva Longoria and Gabrielle Union?

Ironically, the answer is right there in the magazine, in a clothing store ad showing a woman with dark hair and pale skin wearing black pants and a zebra-striped top. The headline? “It’s as simple as black and white.”

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