Blacks Don’t Read is a stereotype I heard growing up in New York City. My family would tell me the phrase ”if you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book.“ As a child hearing that, I was determined to break that negative stereotype of my people. Contrary to popular belief, I grew up in a household with a plethora of books. Before I even started school, I had a love for books. By the time I was in the third grade, I had read hundreds of books with Caucasian characters, of course. The more I read, the more I began to write.
In the fourth grade, I began to share my stories with my classmates. To my surprise, they enjoyed reading my stories and suggested that I become a published author. A thought that never crossed my mind. I was already breaking a stereotype by reading, but now writing? If the belief was that Black people didn’t read, then they sure didn’t write. But my peers were motivated to read when I wrote. So I began my quest to becoming a published author.
Today I am an author of two juvenile fiction books: Englisha and David’s Adventurous Vacation and Englisha and Laurenthina: Best Friends Forever? The majority of my consumers are African Americans. African Americans not only buy books and read but they also write. I know several published Black authors in my community but that’s not enough! We need more mainstream authors of color! Our children need to start to see themselves in the books that they read! Even when mainstream books feature black characters, they are usually written by Caucasians.
Black authors need a chance! We need to share our distinctive voice! Our books need to be placed right next to the Judy Blumes, Louis Sachars and J.K.Rowlings of the world!
Black people DO read! We EVEN write!
Tell me what you think! Do you agree that we are suffering from a lack of Black mainstream authors? How do you feel about the negative stereotype of Blacks not reading?
Blog post written by Michellene Barrett Some Rights Reserved.