Thursday, February 28, 2019

Past, Present, Future #1- African American History

by Toi Thomas

For those of you who don’t live in the U.S., please stick around and read this article anyway. You’ll find that it’s probably not what you expect it to be.


The Past

So, I’ve been keeping myself busy in the month of February. A little too busy, but that’s nothing unusual. I tasked myself with the challenge of starting 28 graphic novels, not necessarily finishing them all, and have been sharing the experience on social media with the hashtag #28daysofgraphicnovles (find it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Part of the challenge included me starting each installment of the MARCH series.

This is a series I highly recommend to young people and anyone who thinks they understand the civil rights movement but can’t remember or recall exactly what happened and or what it all really means.

Since this blog is for readers and authors, I’d thought I’d also share this article I found about the 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read. This article contains so many names I grew up hearing and reading about, yet as an adult so many of my peers (black, white, others included) have not heard of these writers or have ever read any of their writings. I’ll be the first to admit that I too have not read many of their works but do have them on my eternal TBR. In all honesty, I sometimes struggle to read content that I know will reflect my personal black struggle, but I do reconcile to face those obstacles in my own time. 

For instance, I read a book of poems and one of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies back in high school, but I haven't revisited those or read more since. They were hard to read, but I’m glad I read them and will read more when the time is right for me.

The Present

I thought I’d share a few books with you, that I’ve read, containing black characters. These books have not necessarily been written by black people and are likely not to be about “the black struggle,” and that’s precisely why I’m sharing these. I think sometimes, people assume that if they read or watch anything about a black person (or other minority), it automatically has to come with some sort of racial issue or dilemma when it really doesn’t.

Here's a bit of variety for you. Twenty Yawns has absolutely nothing to do with the little girl in the book being black, she just happens to be black. 

The Warrior is a standalone prequel, to a multicultural YA Fantasy series, focusing on one of the main black characters (I adore the Spellbringers series). 

Wires and Nerves is a spinoff graphic novel from the Cinder series (an amazing multicultural YA Sci-fi series I adore) about an android who's current form is that of a black woman. What I love most about this character is that her biggest struggle is being an android, not anything else. 

In Turn Tables (A Reel Romance sequel) the main two characters are a black woman and a Hispanic man. 

She Died In My Arms is the prequel to a series I've been meaning to read but haven't yet started. It's a world of black characters (I assume there are other races, but I've only read the prequel.) 

Lastly, I'm currently reading about Bass Reeves, a black U.S. Marshall in "Indian" Territory, said to be the original inspiration for the character of The Lone Ranger. His life is enough on its own to make him a legend. 

Here's an article I found on 28 Brilliant Books by Black Authors in 2018. Some of these are on my current TBR.

The Future

I want to read more books from black authors and about black characters, but more so, I want to read more stories that reflect the multiculturalism of the world I currently live in. I want to read about cultures other than my own, and I want other people to do the same. 

These are just a small few of the kinds of books I wish more people would talk about, whether there's a special cultural or racial awareness observation or not. Many people argue that Black History should be American History, and while I agree, I don't believe that it's a reality. At least not now. Perhaps someday, no one group will feel the need to be observed and recognized because all will be. 

American History will someday be African, Hispanic, Asian, Native, Irish, etc...
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