Taylor, Whit – Watermelon
Full disclosure time, for anybody who wonders about this “Whitey” guy who writes all the reviews: I’d had the nickname for probably four years before I had the slightest idea that there was any racial association with it at all. My hair in high school was damned near translucent, you see, so “white haired kid” got shortened down to “Whitey,” and here I am, currently in the awkward mid-30’s phase of the nickname, greatly looking forward to having my hair eventually turn white so maybe the nickname will start to make sense again. And as for why I keep the nickname, have you ever tried to disassociate yourself from a nickname that you’ve been given? Good luck with that. Just felt compelled to throw that out there, seeing as how the subtitle for this book is “and other things that make me uncomfortable as a black person” and knowing that some people were likely to experience some small brain explosions. So how about the actual comic? This is a great peek into the mind of Whit, obviously, but it’s probably an even better primer for people who probably don’t know when they’re being racist. There’s the cover story where she wonders how watermelon got started as a racist stereotype (and her grandma’s theory of “because slave owners wouldn’t give slaves utensils and watermelon was easy to eat” is probably close to the truth), what she does on the beach due to her “natural tan,” the dreaded n-word (who can use it, where it came from, and an unfortunate nickname for another black person in their neighborhood, “Reggin”), the south in general and New Orleans in particular, spending time at the beauty parlor listening to conversations and getting her hair done, black actors and tv shows, studying abroad in Australia and seeing the completely foreign attitudes towards race, black history month and WTF is Kwanzaa? She has an engaging, self-effacing style that makes you love the book more as you go, and I’d be shocked if you didn’t come away from this book having learned something, no matter what color you are. I wish she’d take a bit more time with her handwriting in certain panels, as it’s clear that she’s occasionally rushing it, but kids these days back in my time we walked to school in the rain etc. etc. Still, it’s a hefty piece of work that manages to take a fairly serious subject and make it funny, which is no easy thing. No price, but I’m going to spin the random price wheel… $6!