Sunday, April 11, 2010

Re-segregating Black Authors, Can I Get a Witness...

I sincerely hope that I can write this post and not melt the keys on my lap top. Going into this I know my blood pressure is going to rise. But as you will see, not without reason.Barnes and Noble is one of my most favorite places in the world. It probably has something to do with growing up in New York City and the original B&N being almost a second home, the New Public Library was first. Then B&N caught the expansion bug and went global. But I digress.

Moving to Georgia almost four years ago now, and discovering a B&N within five minutes of my house was a source of great great joy. I've spent a lot of time there sitting, sipping, wandering, listening, reading, and of course buying books.

Last night though, I wandered in to my favorite B&N and inquired, "I'm looking for UPTOWN, by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant." Now understand, I only inquired after trying on my own to find this new book that was just published a month ago! It wasn't with the NEW FICTION-JUST RELEASED. It wasn't in the Fiction section that also has a space for JUST RELEASED. By now I'm scratching my head and feeling slightly perturbed.

So the kindly well trained clerk rapidly begins walking away from the fiction section, actually it looks like she's heading to the kiddie section, then a detour around a couple more areas that look like research and non-fiction and voila, she points to the African American section. Huh? To add insult to injury it is a right pitiful African American section at that. It can't rightly be called a section as it is only one book case and it isn't full. Hello. What's wrong with this picture?

My kindly clerk checks the few books in Afr Am, UPTOWN is absent. Like a run away slave, I wonder, maybe it ran to another section? So back we go toward the fiction section but we only get as far as the entrance to the golden gates for there on what I now know is called an end-cap, there are more books by Black authors! About six of them, and at the very bottom, there is UPTOWN. Your two or three year-old might find it, it would be at eye level for them. But for adults? I don't think so.

So even if not in the Af-Am section, just in case you don't get the message, it is "segregated" with other books by Black authors because they just have so so much in common.

Sensing the heat radiating from my head, the clerk inquired, "Is there something wrong?"

Is there something wrong? Hell yeah there's something wrong. Because as I looked around the fiction section, prominently displayed in the front so that it can't be missed with all the other books they want you to see as you come in the door is a book, Little Bee, by a white male British author, telling the story of a Nigerian girl in England. Excuse me! Why is his book featuring a story about a black female considered "General" fiction and put up front but a book by two black authors about black people is considered Afr Am and relegated to the back of the book bus? To read the rest of this post, click here.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 4:19 PM


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