Incognegro by Mat Johnson
Illustrated by Warren Pleece
This graphic novel was originally published in 2008, but had a repackaging for a 10th anniversary edition in 2018, and is even more poignant now. The story follows this idea that Mat had from his childhood. He is a very fair-skinned African American, and he and his friends used to joke that he would be able to go "incognegro" and pass as a white person. Then, later in his life, Mat had twin boys - one who could pass as incognegro, and the other who couldn't. He meshed the two ideas together, and added the historical element of Northern African American journalists traveling to the South before the Civil Rights movement, and passing for white journalists.
This novel is beautifully and tragically illustrated, and well narrated. The main character, Zane, is sympathetic and pure. The racism in this novel takes its cue straight from history, and is an important reminder of where things were, and possibly how they came to be the way they are today. Because of the subject matter and the frequent use of the "n" word, this book would do well in high school where history and literary curriculum delves into the South before and during the Civil Rights era.
Sara's rating: 9/10
Suitability level: Grades 10-12
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Literature, Historical Fiction, Race Relations,
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I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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