Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New books column on The Root

Felicia Pride launches her new "Books on The Root" column today. Check it out and let me know what you think. (So far, the comments are disapproving.)


Lisa said...

I'm starting to believe that you could substitute pieces that talk about books written by people of color with nearly any other subset of literature (whether it's books in translation or genre fiction or books by women, etc.) and you'd get the same variety of positive and negative comments.

You'll definitely always have a lot of disagreement about whether or not books by "dead white guys" should or shouldn't be part of a high school education, no matter who's talking about it. All readers are divided on this question and have been for a long time.

LOVE your vision Carleen :)

susan said...
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susan said...

Carleen, I'll be responding at the Root. My first thought though is where is the cultural criticism aimed at us? How much are we promoting and supporting literacy in our communities? Are we raising readers? When is the last time our children saw us reading a book? And was that book by Zane? And arguing that our children don't read solely because they can't relate to dead white guys is lame. By that simplified nonsense, then why shouldn't other readers argue there's no market for black authors because only blacks will read black authors? How about we all promote good literature and fiction and we all make an effort to expand our reading habits?

The goal should be to promote diversity, push for inclusion, push for expanding reading habits not shifting from one group to another.

I am really annoyed by black writers who think just because they are black and they published a book is worthy of our attention. There are books I'm not going to read and it has nothing to do with race. I wouldn't read a Danielle Steele book ever and neither will I read the crap some of these wannabe black writers are peddling and expecting me to support simply because they're black.

And when I read a book, I want to read a writer who is a reader, someone who is literate. I'd really like to ask a lot of aspiring writers how well-read they are. Who do they read. Do they read other writers who not black.

I want black authors and the black community to work from the inside out. I run a library and I am disgusted by the lack of support from parents, schools and agencies who say they want better for our kids but they fail to back up the claim with funding for literacy programs or books. Both parents and institutions are failing to provide adequate time and place set aside for reading. It is not enough to expect our kids to kids to develop a love of reading based solely on required reading at home. How many black homes have home libraries or visit the public library often? Are books part of regular birthday and Christmas presents. Are parents raising raising kids who have regular reading time at home?

I know plenty of adults who are not readers period. That's not a race issue, a literacy issue. We are going culturally bankrupt.

Carleen Brice said...

Susan, I agree with you on many levels! I always ask people who complain their kids don't like to read if THEY read.

Though, speaking for the writers who responded to Felicia's request: we had just a few sentences and were asked about the literary world. It's hard to address all those issues, especially literacy, in a few sentences.

One thing I'd like to address in your comments is that some people's "crap" is other people's "guilty pleasure." So I don't think anyone should give an author attention just because they are black and they've written a book. But I do think that people who like the type of work that writer writes (and there's always someone who will) should hear about it and be matched with it.

You don't like romance or fluffy fiction and that's fine. But for people who do, I hope they'll find black writers of it just as they find white writers of it.

I don't read a lot of the stuff that gets shelved in the AfAm book area, but I also know that there's just as many trashy novels in the general fiction section too. "Crap" comes in all colors.

Color Online said...


I hear you. I'm not anti-guilty pleasures. What I hate is someone pushing it on me or arguing it is something that it isn't. Yes, the fluff comes in all colors. But the issue wasn't who was writing was it.

I get the writers' had limited space. Fortunately, readers were not limited and any opportunity to expand a discussion is a good thing.

Color Online said...

Carleen and readers,
Please join us for our new weekly meme C.O.R.A Diversity Roll Call.

We're all about promoting writers of color.