The Emptiness of Offense

I’m not brave, and that’s the fucking problem. I just can’t write about anything else but what I actually care about. While I was writing this novel, I kept thinking, black people are going to resent that this discussion [of mixed-race identity] is even happening because some people are going to see it as people trying to distance themselves from blackness. Some people are going to see it as divisive and taking away much needed power in the black community by making it even smaller. Mixed people, my fellow mixed people, don’t tend, as a group, to have a great sense of humor about this stuff. They’re very sensitive about it and there’s a lot of trauma there, so even if they only slightly disagree with me, they’re going to be incredibly furious about that. White people, some of them are going to react by saying, “Why does it matter?” Because a lot of them are in the position where they don’t have to acknowledge how integral identity is as part of their lives. Then I was like, well who’s left?

—At Salon, Laura Miller interviews the incomparable novelist Mat Johnson about his new book (Loving Day), as well as satire in the time of the internet, the righteousness of the offended and mixed-race identity.

Read the story