Racism has always been an issue in America. Due to the national outcry of the George Floyd murder Americans have decided to educate themselves about racism within America. Books on race such as White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo have become bestsellers because of this newfound respect for racial education. I refuse to believe that this sudden interest is a bad thing.
But, I would like to offer another suggestion.
People should read books about black people living their life and not just books centered around racism. Reading has the power that influences the way that we perceive the world around us. It allows us to become more settled in different perceptions of the world. This is why it’s unfortunate that a lot of narratives within books are from a white viewpoint. Sometimes other narratives showcase the “black” viewpoint and are unfortunately written by white authors. I can tell that a lot of these books are trying to grasp racial meaningfulness in their pages and often fail to do so.
The problem is that for a lot of black people race and racism is a very real component in life. But, it’s not the only component in their life. I can’t think of a chosen one story that centers around a black kid. In fact, I can’t name a children’s book that I’ve read as a child that centered around a black child. My romance books are filled with white women who are praised for their eurocentric features. My high school syllabus was filled with the words written about white people and the little ones that featured black voices were either written by a white man or are about slavery or racism.
Black people should be able to exist in literature as much as white people do. They should be able to have stories that feature them just living life as much as white people do. These stories should be able to have a wide variety of readers like white stories do. And yet they don’t.
I think this concept is terrifying. If people continue to only read about race the black experience is still being caricatured. Combating racism in America isn’t only about understanding the nuances of prejudice but it’s also about the fundamental understanding that black people are in fact, people. The best way to understand this is to read and create stories about black people living their life. I truly believe that writing and literature are the world’s greatest equalizer. The only way to achieve literary equality is to read black authors and stories meaningfully and treat them with the same respect as white stories.