Why We Need To Engage With Black Literature

Why we need to engage with Black literature beyond racial politics

It’s time to delve into the full spectrum of Black experience

By Frankie Reddin

There’s a huge spotlight on Black literature at the moment – for obvious and essential reasons. These spotlights on Black literature have appeared before, yet they rarely look beyond the confines of politically-charged, racially-orientated, or complex academic accounts of the Black experience, when it comes to mainstream trends at least. This sometimes leads to outdated or one-dimensional perceptions of what it means to be Black, both historically and today.

In its most negative guise, the subconscious begins to associate a Black experience with race relations, slavery, violence or erasure. The alternative to this, the ‘positives’, are reducing the lived Black experience to specific sectors of culture, for example music, sport, fashion, entertainment and art that can play into racial tropes or appear as illegitimate intellectual contributions to society as a whole (when compared to other human contributions such as science, history and so on). It’s a nuanced issue, but it feeds into a dysfunctional value system that seeps into everyday lives. This allows non-Black audiences to distance themselves from stories about slavery, race and history simply because they happened in the past and are not explicitly connected to their current world. With contemporary, positive stories one has to engage with Black people. Read the full piece at Harper’s Bazaar.

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