By Chet Yarbrough
By: Mat Johnson
Narrated by: J. D. Jackson
Mat Johnson (American novelist).
“Loving Day” is a rambling novel about discrimination. Mat Johnson’s main character, a son of a white father and black mother, inherits a dilapidated mansion from his father who dies during its renovation. The house has many doors. Johnson creatively assembles a variety of characters who figuratively knock on those doors to define and find a way to erase discrimination.
Every human has an ethnic and sexual identity whether recognized or not. Johnson’s story illustrates the inequality of the sexes while sidestepping any solution or answer for societal accommodation to ethnic difference. His host of characters range from transexual to sexual, from black to white, to mixed race, from married to divorced, from Jew to gentile. Each character might be classified as ethnic, but still a part of larger society that is burdened by inequality and discrimination.
Though Johnson’s primary focus is on discrimination, his many examples are a hot mess. There are too many to list in one review. There are many causes of discrimination. Children of unwed mothers are unerasable consequences of unsafe or forced conjugal relations. Children of un-wed mothers often become latch-key kids because their single parent has to work to pay rent and put food on the table. Some are sent to grandparents who may or may not be able to handle the responsibility of another person to feed, clothe, and educate. Homelessness is a consequence of many human causes, ranging from economies in crises to discrimination to medical or mental disability.
Schools created out of heart felt belief in eradication of inequality create an atmosphere of privilege that exacerbates discrimination.
A marker for discrimination is illustrated by the author’s character named “One Drop”. One Drop is a human label associated with birth of a child from parents with different ethnicities. One drop of blood or semen between a black person and a white person, in the eyes of some, makes that person Black. In Nazi Germany, a gentile who marries a Jew identifies their children as Jewish. A man or woman may have conjugal relationships with others while married and are judged untrustworthy as future monogamous partners.
Society organizes itself without understanding or constructively dealing with inequality engendered and perpetuated by poor judgement.
Genetic/Socio/ethnic differences are the thematic subject of Johnson’s story. Society judges human difference as good or bad. The author’s conclusion is that people are people. Society should accept people for what they are; until then, discrimination and unequal treatment will be like an unrenovated house that will either be moved from one place to another or destroyed.
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