I try to read a black-authored book during February., and it bothers me. It bothers me because I have to even protest such nonsense. The nonsense: why we cannot treat everyone the same. But I do. It’s not so much to add my voice to any protest but to reaffirm in myself that racism is a problem and if you’re not part of the solution … I suppose this is my meager contribution to solutions. I have countered many many idiots who claimed I need to watch better news or buy a gun or whatever nonsense they were spewing with my advice, “try reading a book.” I am convinced if we all became regular and varied readers, we’d all by much better off.
In the past few years for BHM I have read Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, Henry Louis Gates Jr’s Colored People, W.A. Spray’s The Blacks of New Brunswick, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and the short story collection Children of the Night edited by Gloria Naylor. I read all but Dhalgren for the purpose of reading black authors. Last year it was the end of February and I said damn, I should really read a black author. Then I stuck my head back into that beast of a book and never minded who wrote it. That’s a good thing, right? When you don’t even notice who the author is? It wasn’t till I got to a part he talked about a gang with blacks and whites in it and nobody cared that I realized he was black and I laughed at myself.
Black authors I’ve read outside of BHM. I think this is an important point to make. I read books for many reasons, and except for BHM, I do not read or pan books based on the author’s demographics, values, politics, religion, or anything else. I read Ender’s Game knowing full well the author was a bigot. I read Ayn Rand knowing full well that she was a nutcase. I am sorry to say I have to search for black authors I’ve read outside of BHM: Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs, Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, Adwoa Badoe’s Between Sisters, Alice Walker’s The Way Forward Is A Broken Heart, and of course Toni Morrison: Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Sula. I plan on reading more Morrison this year.
For 2021 I am reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. This has been high on my TBR list anyway, and I think I can honestly say I am not reading this because she is black. I am reading it because she’s been highly recommended by a literary friend and it’s long past the time I gave her a go. I have also watched a number of her YouTube videos where I have learned things about racism that I did not know. For example, I no longer ask people of color where their ancestral home is. I only did that because of their skin color and accent, but I never did that for new white friends. I know Adichie is a very intelligent and gifted writer and I am really looking forward to this read, especially after reading the first page: … how the bungalows here were painted the color of the sky and sat side by side like polite, well-dressed men … Yeah, this author can write!