I still consider myself African-American, just mixed African-American.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-11-28 00:39Z by Steven

“I’ve got a piece coming out for Buzzfeed about the word mulatto. I think that’s a good word to start using more often. People don’t like the word, but they can’t point to why, or they think it’s a reference to a mule. But the word is actually an Arabic word referencing people of mixed heritage. It predates the word for mule. Historically, it’s the word we used for people of mixed race in this country. And the thing about words like mixed and biracial is that they’re completely vague. They don’t make much sense. Most black and white people who consider themselves biracial, their race is listed legally and socially as black. Plus bi- doesn’t work because there are other races mixed in there, too. Part of the thing that worries me about the biracial movement is that it can be ahistoric. And as I said the vast majority of African-Americans are of mixed racial descent. So by the definitions they’re using, every African-American is pretty much biracial. It would be a miracle if they did a test and there weren’t some European poking in. In my view, mulatto acknowledges that there’s a larger history. And for me, the black and white mixed experience is part of my African-American experience. I still consider myself African-American, just mixed African-American. It’s like, if you have a Dad whose Irish, you’d be Irish, and nobody would debate that just because your Mom was Italian. But for African-Americans, we have these rigid ways of looking at the issue. We’ve inherited these preconceived notions.” —Mat Johnson

Dwyer Murphy, “Pitching Chaos, an interview with Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day,” Electric Lit, May 26, 2015. http://electricliterature.com/pitching-chaos-an-interview-with-mat-johnson-author-of-loving-day/.

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Pitching Chaos, an interview with Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-28 00:25Z by Steven

Pitching Chaos, an interview with Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day

Electric Lit

Dwyer Murphy

This week marks the release of Loving Day, the new novel from Mat Johnson, author of Pym, Drop, Hunting in Harlem, Incognegro, and others. Johnson and I spoke last week on Skype. I caught him in his car, heading home from a school tour, and we continued our chat as he walked across the campus of the University of Houston, where he’s a faculty member in the creative writing program. Johnson has an energetic, incisive way of speaking. He works historical analysis, social observation, literary critique and wicked one-liners into the span of a sentence or two, always with the kind of conversational ease that makes you feel like he’s been mulling things over for a while and you were just the person he was hoping to see. We talked about race and culture in Philadelphia, prioritizing entertainment in literature, fatherhood, the book community on Twitter, and “the idea of being a straight male interacting with the feminine” (yes – sex – but other stuff, too…).

Dwyer Murphy: Over the course of your career, you’ve shifted between novels, graphic novels, comics, and non-fiction. With Loving Day, you’re back to the novel. How do you decide which medium to work with? Does the story dictate the format?

Mat Johnson: Usually it starts with the idea. I would say I’m a novelist first, but if the idea doesn’t fit into a novel, then I look for other ways to tell it. The graphic novel is kind of my way of doing a short story. I don’t usually write short stories, but I’ve found that pieces that are about the length of a story and have a strong visual aspect tend to work really well as graphic novels, so that’s how I’ll tell those particular stories…

Read the entire interview here.

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