Living in America, we tend to be caught up in our own bubble, to plainly say, we only concern ourselves with what is going on in the USA. The news media is good for contriving this narrative, as they usually push the fact that America is a superpower. For the most part, this narrative is very much true, as our influence not only politically but culturally can’t be felt in places most American have never traversed. We also believe, in general, that we face unique problems, once that people not form America would not understand.
Take the issue of race, which Americans tend to largely ignore or avoid talking about for fear of reprisal or holding a unpopular opinion. The truth is there are several nuances to how Americans even talk about the issue of race that are unique to our history. The sad truth is we rarely are honest about it, unlike countries such as Germany and France who have whole curriculum mandated by their government to expose their youth to their history. In all its beauty and ugliness. France, has their own issues with race, but their anticolonial legacy, is still part of their lifeblood. In Yvan Alagbe’s outstanding Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures, the creator tackles these issue head on.
We meet a mixed-race couple, Claire, a young French woman and Alain, a young Balinese man and an illegal immigrant, who are madly in love but each other families do not support the relationship. We also meet Sam, an artist documenting what is going on, as well as Mario, a former police officer when he lived in Algeria, who constantly torments the other three for a false sense of authority form being prior law enforcement. Each of the characters deal with being outcasts, in one form or the other as France is not their home especially Alain, Sam and Mario, and to some extent, Claire. The other stories in this book, shows Alagbe’s awareness of the current political climate, as he also revisits how race affects him in France. By books end, the reader gets a view of how the world sees race, specially France, who has along complicated history with the subject, much like us, but not one they shy away from.
Overall, an excellent book, which confronts, racism, ageism, sexism, xenophobia, nationalism and through these characters, we see firsthand, how these elements weigh on people like them. The story by Alagbe, is brilliant, harrowing, and endearing. The art by Alagbe, feels like a Basquiat painting, Altogether, an interesting study in human behavior, and all the different baggage each of us carried with it.
Story: Yvan Alagbe Art: Yvan Alagbe
Story: 10 Art:10 Overall:10 Recommendation: Buy