Friday, April 16

Brit Bennett: “In the United States there is a systemic racism that explains the rise of Trump”


Obama’s Favorite Book

Updated

The Vanishing Half explores identity and racial implications in the 1960s and ’70s. It was the 2020 reveal with over a million books sold and an HBO series on the way.

Writer Brit Bennett.
Writer Brit Bennett.Leonardo CENDAMO

Lost deep in Louisiana, Mallard was such a small town that it didn’t even appear on maps. Any traveler who stopped at the dinner Lou out for coffee would think he was surrounded by whites. But not. Since the days of the cotton plantations, when some slaves were free and were able to buy their own land, generations of African Americans have been marrying lighter-skinned people. Mallard was a place where its inhabitants they refused

to be treated as black but will never be accepted as white

, although their skin was beige (and some even redheads). So it begins

The evanescent half

(Random House Literature) by Brit Bennett, the revelation book of 2020 in the United States, where it has sold more than a million copies, HBO has made the rights in a millionaire bid and

Barack Obama

He has highlighted it as one of his favorites.

My mother grew up in Louisiana and one day she told me about a town where everyone married to have whiter children. He told me as if the whole world knew, but I had never heard of it. So I started researching and found places like that. But Mallard is not a historic site. For me it is a mythological place, almost folklore, explains Bennett from Los Angeles. In

The evanescent half

imagine to

two nvea skin twins who elope

Mallard at 18: Desiree go back years later (with a jet black daughter) and Stella disappear with a new white identity. In the United States there is a tradition of African-American novels in which the characters pretend the color of their skin, pretend to be white in order to reinvent themselves and have the same opportunities, such as

Passing

(1929) of

In the Larsen.

It is not something uniquely American, but it is distinctive: It is the idea of ​​starting from scratch, the story of the individual marking their own destiny, something that Americans love, Bennett says, that modernizes that tradition and

vindicates the legacy of African American writers.

Without them, I couldn’t be writing.

Benett published his debut feature at age 26,

The Mothers,

hailed as one of the best literary debuts. But his second book has unleashed a veritable tsunami. Last February, Time magazine crowned her as one of the next 100 young promises who will redefine the future of America in different areas and only a smiling Bennett made the cover. What does Bennett have? A

surprising ease of condensing African American history

, with all its complexity, in fascinating, contradictory characters full of chiaroscuro. There are always racial implications and you better be lighter than darker. I was born in 1990 and

The standard for African American beauty was Halle Berry or Beyonc

he admits.

In his novel the Ku Klux Klan does not appear, but there are five guys who break into the house of an African-American family man to drag him out, beat him up, and shoot him four times. But there is another, more subtle violence. Bennett narrates racism in a single gesture, in a significant detail: the boy (white) who does not hold the hand of his girl (black), the teacher (white) who refuses to answer a student’s question (black) , the rich (they are still whiter) who throw bricks at the window of the new neighbors (although they are also rich, they are still black)

There are many forms of violence.

I was watching a TikTok showing how most of Los Angeles’s freeways were built over neighborhoods with a majority African American. And the typical Californian dream of having a swimming pool Many decided to build them when racial segregation ended and they let blacks into public swimming pools.

They did not want to bathe in the same water in case the blacks contaminated it.

But there was also a fear of sexuality, of black semi-naked bodies, and of interracial relationships, Bennett notes.

Although part of the novel is set in the 60-70s, the echoes resonate to this day. That intrinsic racism explains the 2020 wave of race riots after

the death of George Floyd

(He died of suffocation after a policeman put his knee on his neck for almost 9 minutes). There is a systemic racism in the United States that explains the rise of Trump, says Bennett. And part of American history.

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