• Lit Scene Team

Is Race Real? Jo Muse Examines, Culture, Ethnicity and Future Demographics in New Novel, Mixed Bless


These are trying days. Days where you have to get up and remind yourself of your blessings before being bombarded with the latest hate-filled rage posts on social media or news of something all the same. Although our social justice leaders of the past have made significant contributions to the freedoms that we experience today, we still experience injustices at an alarming rate in communities with dense populations of people of color.

In Jo Muse’s new novel, Mixed Blessings, Is Race Real; Muse points out those same injustices but in a different version of our world. Muse paints a world where the Civil Rights leaders that we all know, never existed and a new set of leaders try to emerge and shift the tides of racism and power in a way that no one can possibly imagine, but a way that can work.

The world that is built is quite similar to what we know but with a different threat--- minorities coming together to rise above white supremacy. Muse builds a society where women of color are having more babies, mixed races are rising, and whites are scared. Sound familiar?

Mixed Blessings explores many themes that many authors are scared to touch. Two of these themes that I found to be the most significant were black men’s (rightful) anger and overcoming it; and black women living with and excusing their sexual assaulters. In the book Muse refers to the anger of a black man as their “kryptonite” and often we see what hurt, fear and anger can do to a group of marginalized people through his writing that spares no grit or truths.

Through the characters he has created: Kimberly, the honorable (?) Kublai Khan, Ahmed, Chaka, Star, and Dalton, to name a few, we see the complexities of different lives and communities affected by their culture and ethnicity. Mixed Blessings showcases fear that turns to anger in a complex story that we can easily tie into what communities of color face today. But what Muse makes clear is that despite all of the intricate and outwardly apparent differences, through the weaving of each of our fabric, we are all still very much the same as he examines the true meaning of race.

At best this is a book that needs to be read to examine and challenge one’s own attitude on the subject of racism and where we each stand in it. But more importantly, it makes the reader analyze what we are doing ourselves to change the status quo. At worst you are thrown out of the story because of grammatical errors (because there were a few) that might be too distracting to a reader if you aren’t fully vested in the story. This in and of itself can be a true analogy for real life.

Muse’s world does what we need it to as readers and as people of color and our allies; it points out the obvious that we want to hide from in this world and then it gives us an imaginative push to see where we as readers can run with it. Because after you’re done reading this it definitely runs with you.

Mixed Blessings (Released June 2019)

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