American racism is more than just a single incantation in Boy, Snow, Bird. It acts as a whole magical system, with a variety of practitioners. Boy’s in-laws use it to become invisible and to gain the advantages that come with escaping notice, such as membership to whites-only golf clubs. Snow is beloved to the Whitmans, who keep their distance from Bird, precisely because she represents the highest practice of this version of the art. “When whites look at her, they don’t get whatever fleeting, ugly impressions so many of us get when we see a colored girl – we don’t see a colored girl standing there,” Boy, who might have gone on believing her husband and his family were white forever, explains. “The joke’s on us.”
- Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
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