Literary Segregation

Can one really make up for past wrongs by dedicating a section of books to a people? Is a separate classification of books an honour or a further insult? If you are an African American Novelist, you will have been faced with this reality. If you are a consumer of novels, it may not have crossed your mind. In the Detroit Public Library and in libraries and bookstores across the country, literature by and about African Americans is often segregated from the rest of the novels. If you are browsing the general novel section you are at risk of overlooking great books due merely to race and topicality. Literature should be equally available to the end reader for discovery without bias and judgment. Topical separation by interest is acceptable for the ease of discovery; however, lumping the latest racy “African American romance” novel with Maya Angelou’s work sends the message that the racial background of an author is of more importance than the written word itself.

3 Comments so far

  1. mizjellybean (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    I am not sure if anyone is trying to make up past wrongs by dedicating sections to the library. I have not been to a library in forever, so I cannot commit too much on that. However, I do frequent the bookstores quite often. You may have a valid point on maybe someone may not find an author’s book if it is stuck in the African American or Native American section. However, about ten years ago when I used to read a lot of black fiction I really appreciated Borders and their segregation of the black books because I could go there quickly and scan the titles and grab something. Barnes and Noble was the opposite, all their titles were integrated. Now, I do not really care too much because I seldom read fiction and there is way too much black chick lit in that section and it is easier to just go online to find books and a synposis on the books. Basically, I really do not think too many authors are not reaching their target markets. I have no trouble finding books on any subject. And the bookstores (don’t know about the library) are pretty good at displaying good works in their recommended reading sections.

  2. max (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

    in my opinion the “target audience” of an author should be nothing more than “someone that reads”. if we’re okay with breaking it up by race of author then why not sex of author or over-weight authors or authors with beards? what happened to everyone wanting to be treated as equals regardless of differences?

  3. Sylvia Hubbard (unregistered) on December 21st, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    It is clearly not fair for them to segregate as they do and it is difficult as a serious novelist to be taken serious as a suspense author when I am put in urban literature all because of the color of my skin.

    I’ve been told that my books can be enjoyed by any race, but bookstores are not even considering that or giving anyone a chance to prove that this is possible because they are shuffling “our” books to the dark corner of the store.

    I feel you and I scream and shout but no one seems to listen at B&N / Borders

    Sylvia Hubbard

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