This is a book which asks, ‘What if …?’. That is, what if someone invented a machine to turn black skin white and then the whole of the Black population in the US underwent the procedure? Black No More is set in 1931 when being white meant better jobs, education and opportunities. There is much documentation of people at the time ‘passing’ as white for these reasons. I recently read and reviewed Passing by Nella Larsen
As I suspected this is a ‘the grass is always greener’ book and the reality of human nature is that we seem to need to feel superior to others. Meaning that even when the country is all white, we are not happy and discrimination doesn’t disappear. In fact, the population continues to look for differences and to discriminate against others for these. I think the book is trying to say that colour is not the core issue here, the problem is that we need to change our attitudes and accept that deep down we are all the same. In the same way that young children don’t see colour or race.
The book is a satire so when Max joins the equivalent of the KKK and then carries out his money-making and power hungry schemes, we need to take it all with a pinch of salt. The book is of its time, the references to white supremacy are uncomfortable reading nowadays. All in all the book highlights how wrong racism is and interestingly how it is manipulated by those in power to gain control. I would recommend it but what it makes you think about is much more interesting that the actual plot.