White Readers: 'Tis the Month to Meet Black Writers

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Writer Carleen Brice, in a “sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted plea,” has declared December National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month.

On her blog, Brice presents her “official invitation into the African American section of the bookstore” with just a hint of irony–as when she reassures white readers that there are indeed black-authored books “without Ebonics,” introduces authors who defy expectations for black writing (“Yes, Virginia, black folks write about the paranormal“), or gently reminds holiday shoppers that “white people already know about Toni Morrison, so please choose something else besides A Mercy.” But in a literary atmosphere where publishers market books by black writers as marginal genre work, and “readers and reporters still ask black authors ‘Is your work for everyone?’ ” Brice issues the invitation sincerely, too. She balances the sarcasm with an earnestly informative tone, offering links on race and writing, reading, and publishing; pointing readers to resources on black authors; and suggesting some of her favorite books by lesser-known black writers.   

Visitors to the blog have largely treated Brice’s rallying cry humorlessly, offering up bland praise for the idea or guiltily working to prove their own color-blind reading habits. Comments on the site hint at tantalizing questions–Should bookstores keep special sections for black writing? How do we define the ‘black’ in ‘black writing’?–that never develop into full-blown discussion. Bloggers have started to spread the word, but seem to have contented themselves thus far with quick mentions of the initiative. Check out the most substantial I’ve found–at cowriters Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry‘s TwoMindsFull blog, which is most interesting when it examines the difficulty of black authors “crossing over” anecdotally.

But NBBBAGSNB Month only officially began on Monday. Here’s hoping the conversation is just starting!

(Thanks, Written Nerd.)

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