A personal essay by one of the UK’s most exciting new voices, Mixed-Race Superman asks what it means to be mixed race in an increasingly divided world.
In an era where a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan can sit in the White House, Will Harris considers how two very different supermen—Barack Obama and Keanu Reeves—each transformed the confusion of a mixed heritage into a heroic identity.
Drawing on personal experience to examine the way that these two men have been embedded in our collective consciousness, Mixed-Race Superman is a moving exploration of race, identity and masculinity that establishes Harris as a truly remarkable writer: wise, generous and razor-sharp.
Praise for Mixed-Race Superman
What exactly is a superman? How do you understand your place in the world as a mixed-race person? Mixed-Race Superman swoops between the theoretical, the political, the historical, and the personal. And I, for one, am very grateful it exists.—Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Mixed-Race Superman is typical of what I have come to expect of Will Harris’s writing: inclusive, expansive, nuanced, rigorous, fiercely intelligent, yet wearing that intelligence lightly. The comparisons he makes between Obama and Keanu, Greek myth and American pop culture, alt-right theory and classic philosophy, Superman and Neo are startling, rich, illustrious and utterly, utterly brilliant. This is to be read and re-read, digested, dissected and celebrated.—Inua Ellams
Mixed-Race Superman interrogates our mythoi of the heroic in the social, historical and literary contexts of racial difference. Will Harris reminds us that the embodiment of contradiction is itself heroic. With an astonishing intellectual range and adaptability, his book is a must-read for anyone interested in racial identity in the modern world.—Sandeep Parmar
Many mixed-race people grow up feeling confused and guilty, because we have to navigate our identities without a language to start us off: we have to feel our way through life and explain ourselves even to ourselves. With writers like Will Harris and Zadie Smith a canon of mixed-race literature is emerging that gives us that language.—Raymond Antrobus
Mixed-Race Superman does away with gods and heroes to write a new kind of masculinity into being. It is refreshing and moving in its embrace of mixed identity as wholeness and as a form of resistance.—Preti Taneja
About the Author
Will Harris is a writer of mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage, born and based in London. He has worked in schools, led workshops and taught for The Poetry School. He is an Assistant Editor at The Rialto and part of the editorial team behind Swimmers. His poems and essays have appeared in the Guardian, The Poetry Review, Poetry London and The White Review. His debut poetry pamphlet is All this is implied (HappenStance, 2017), and his work has been featured in the Bloodaxe anthology Ten: Poets of the New Generation. His website is willjharris.com