Holy not-so-micro-aggressions. Holy GASLIGHTING. Invisible Boy was incredibly difficult to read without weeping. Every time Harry’s mother or other family members gaslighted him I wanted to scoop him out of the pages of his past and take him far, far away to people who would love him as he is, for who he is, for what he is.
I cry for all the children, teenagers, people who are where he was right now.
For all its pain, I do not regret reading Invisible Boy… because the pain embedded in Harrison Mooney’s past is insidious, latently seething, and all too common still. Decolonization is an eternal task, its end is nowhere in sight. Memoirs and works like Invisible Boy remain relevant and necessary in our collective, societal process towards decolonization. Like Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Mooney’s Invisible Boy is a call to action. It is a reminder that we still need a rebellion of the mind and soul.
Invisible Boy relates the path of Mooney’s awakening to his race and the ways in which racism hides behind a myth of colorlessness. It begins with his childhood and ends in his early adulthood. His memoir exposes to the reader how racism seethes in the most intimate places, in the places it should not exist — in this case, within a family. Families are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to be supportive, loving, nurturing. Invisible Boy tells a sad tale of how racism is the silent reaper within, turning the sanctuary of the family into an emotional, mental prison.
What makes Mooney’s Invisible Boy unique from other works like it (Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners, George Lamming’s novels, Franz Fanon’s memoirs and works, James Baldwin’s calls to action, among others) is Mooney’s attention to a community that is little attended to: adoptees of color with white adopted families. As in Mixed-Race Superman, Will Harris’ essay on the transcultural ways of being mixed race, Invisible Boy highlights a different kind of process of decolonization that confronts adoptees of color in white families and white communities that hold onto racist beliefs.
I do not know if I can re-read Invisible Boy for the sake of my own peace as a person of color who has grappled with my own decolonization; but, I am glad I read it at least once and I am privileged to have the ability to choose to only read it once. I am privileged to have been given a rare glimpse into another’s experience of racial awakening. I am privileged that my own decolonization was less traumatic. In truth, Invisible Boy is a book that demands re-reading and reading again. One day I will summon enough courage to read it again.