The Pathology of Whitenes in Pym, by Mat Johnson

1412 WordsJul 8, 20186 Pages
Mat Johnsons novel, Pym challenges readers not only to view his work with a new set of eyes but also the work of all American literature with the understanding that the idea of Whiteness still has a very strong power over literature today. It is unfortunate that in today’s society, the pathology of Whiteness still holds a very strong presence in literary world. Literature from American authors versus literature from African American authors still continues to be segregated and handled with two different sets of criteria. Johnson’s novel engages in different aspects of the argument presented in Toni Morrison’s work entitled Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. One of the main ideals that Pym engages in is the thought…show more content…
When he meets the man hired to be replacement at the bar the young man expresses to him that he plans to join the diversity committee to make a difference. Jaynes replies to him saying “You’re not fighting Whiteness, you’re feeding its perversion” (20). While some feel as though things such as diversity committees are put into place to help erase the racial lines that divide American cultures, if these committees prove to be stagnate and unproductive they are really just keeping the systems segregated. It is easy to say that you have a “diversity committee” but if it is not actively trying to fight against segregation and focusing on all Americans being viewed as one instead of as different subsets, the committee becomes useless. Instead of the diversity committee representing change, it is aiding in pathology of Whiteness. Johnson takes Morrison’s argument past simply identifying that Whiteness is still very much dominate in literature today and focuses on ways that we are still helping it to exist. He challenges the reader to identify the roles they are taking in keeping this “impenetrable whiteness” alive and helps them see that they are too affected by the pathology of Whiteness. Johnson challenges the readers by addressing the very thing that they do to try to make a change is what is holding

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