The United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, now has an African American President; does that mean that all is well and we are all clicking our heels three times shouting “It’s great to be an American, It’s great to be an American”?
Not just yet. Although I believe that on the whole we are glad, grateful and proud to be Americans, it is very clear to those of us with a little more melanin that President Obama, even with all of his assets, is not the Wizard and we still have a lot of work to do in this country we all so love.
All we have to do is take a look at the events of this past week and the New York Post cartoon to see that change is coming, but has not reached everyone. While I haven’t actually viewed the cartoon I have listened to the commentaries on both sides and they clearly indicate that issues of race continue to polarize this nation.
Just this morning I read a commentary in the Denver Post by author Carleen Brice on the struggle black writers have when it comes to broadening their reader base. The problems she explains lie not only with the publishing industry, but also with the mindset of readers.
As black woman I have been reading the works of non-blacks my entire life. As I think back over the years, it was not until I reached Junior High I believe, but more probably High School that I became acutely aware of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Nikki Giovanni and others. As an avid reader I don’t limit myself to race or culture when I read, because one of the joys I have always found with reading is that I can transport myself to faraway lands without ever leaving home.
If we are truly ever going to be a multicultural society we must embrace the works of all cultures. Reading is a perfect mechanism for this because once you have read about another culture you have a central base from which to begin dialogue with someone from that culture. You may find that what you have read is not totally accurate, but at least the conversation will have begun and I’m sure you will learn something.
So if you’re game and you’re not a minority, hop on over to White Readers Meet Black Authors and find a new book to read. For minority readers you can visit the site too! If you find that you limit yourself to books only by African Americans, Hispanics, Asians etc. then take this opportunity to widen your horizon as well.
Take the plunge, I’m sure you will like it!