Bye-bye, blue eyes. That’s one of the conclusions drawn by demographers about Americans’ appearance in the not-too-distant future. Before I began writing “The Shade Ring” and its sequels, I researched demographic predictions. Bottom line: Americans will increasingly be more ethnically diverse due to immigration and inter-marriage. What that means is more brown eyes and fewer blue eyes, among other things. According to a recent study, half of Americans had blue eyes a century ago. Currently, only one in six has blue eyes.
The Census Bureau reports more and more of us prefer not to self identify with a single label, such as Caucasian, Black, Asian or Latino. An increasing percentage prefers no racial label at all, or one that better reflects ethnic diversity. Golfer Tiger Woods is a good example. Tiger told Oprah Winfrey that he thought of himself as “Cablinasion” – a term he thought up when he was a kid that included Caucasian, Black, Indian and Asian. Of course, there was the cover story in National Geographic about what Americans will look like in 2060, which includes some fascinating artist renderings. (Think Keanu Reeves.) http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/changing-faces/funderburg-text
So when I wrote “The Shade Ring” and “Albedo Effect,” (due out this summer) which are set a hundred years in the future, I created a diverse cast of characters, including Kwan, the wiseacre Korean American, Annie Roanhorse, the Native American activist, Charlie Galloway, the handsome, mixed-race brother of Will Galloway, and Nat Patel, whose ancestors hailed from India, to name a few. Only one character has blue eyes. And because demographers predict a sizable increase in our Latino population, a number of characters have Hispanic backgrounds, including the protagonist, Neave Alvarez. Although, admittedly, she takes completely after her mother with auburn hair and green eyes. (But there’s a reason for that.)
An interesting tidbit I learned about blue eyes, by the way: they’re blue because of a LACK of color in the stroma of the iris. And it was a genetic mutation that created blue, green and hazel eyes. Originally, scientists say, all human eyes were dark brown.