If you haven't read Brit Bennett's New York Times bestseller The Vanishing Half, aka the POPSUGAR Book Club's book of the year, allow Trevor Noah and the author to explain why you should add it to your reading list ASAP. In a recent interview on The Daily Show, Bennett opened up about colorism, racial passing, and her approach to describing the effects of white supremacy within the Black community.
Set in the Jim Crow south, the book explores the lives of identical twin sisters who take two distinctly different paths in life. One chooses a life where she passes as white and makes every attempt imaginable to hide her true identity. The other returns to the small town they grew up in to raise her Black daughter, who is deeply criticized in their predominately white-passing town for her dark skin tone. During the interview, Noah pointed out the importance of Bennett's focus on colorism within the Black community in telling the twins' stories, rather than the conflict between Black and white communities.
"I've always said the most interesting thing to happen to Black people is not necessarily white people. Often, the more interesting stories and the more complicated stories are within our own community."
"I wanted to write a story about those nuances within a Black community," Bennett said. "I think sometimes there's a tendency to think that the more interesting story is conflict between Black and white people. But, for me, I've always said the most interesting thing to happen to Black people is not necessarily white people. Often, the more interesting stories and the more complicated stories are within our own community. So I wanted to think about the effect of colorism, which is a result of white supremacy and it's a result of that type of ideology. What does this colorism do to people and how does it affect the choices these characters are able to make in their lives?"
In her writing, Bennett explores the absurdity of having prejudices against people from the same ethnic or racial group based on skin tone. In doing so, she allows the characters to deconstruct certain ideologies around race and better understand how others perceive them based on their appearance.
HBO also outbid 16 other media companies for the rights to Bennett's book, which means we might have a miniseries à la Little Fires Everywhere and Sharp Objects to look forward to next year. While we patiently wait for the book to hit our TV screens, give Bennett's thoughts on the book a listen above and check out POPSUGAR's 2021 Reading Challenge for more amazing reads.