book review: incognegro

I really liked Mat Johnson’s comic, Incognegro. It’s about a light-skinned black journalist going undercover as a white man to cover lynchings in the south in the 1930s. Well, that’s kind of the setup. In this story he’s going south to stop the lynching of his own jackass twin brother (who isn’t light-skinned at all).

It’s a tight little small-town mystery with more ins and outs than I’d expected at first. There’s moonshine and backwoods religion and klansmen, and it all hangs together pretty magnificently. One of the themes running through the story is that white people assume we’re the default, that our food isn’t ethnic food, that we don’t have accents, all of which makes us easy to fool. Obviously this is set in a different time with lynchings and much stronger threats of violence based on race, but it’s interesting how much of that “looking like you’re a minority or not” still plays into how people are treated.

Anyway, I recommend this one pretty highly.

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