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#801053 - 01/16/13 05:04 PM What makes literature "african america"?
TheDeeMan Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/21/10
Posts: 4
It's an age old question: Does it have to have black characters in it to be "african american" literature?

As a black writer who writes stories of all varieties with and without black characters in them, I say no. The simple fact that it's written by a black writer regardless of whether or not there's a single black character in it, that alone should qualify it as african american literature.

**NOTE: new users are not allowed to use links/urls, especially those for personal promotion & marketing purposes!

Am I wrong?

Dee


Edited by Sadhana - Indian Food (01/16/13 07:08 PM)

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#801056 - 01/16/13 05:39 PM Re: What makes literature "african america"? [Re: TheDeeMan]
Stacy- AA Lit Editor Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 17
Loc: Texas
Hi, I don't think you're wrong but I guess it comes down to what we individually believe AA literature is. For example, I don't write African-American literature. At least I don't consider my work that. I write mystery/suspense and detective fiction but still it gets classified as black literature because I'm black. My books also have white characters and only a few blacks but still my books are classified as AA or AA Mystery. I write for everyone who will enjoy my work, not just black people.

To me AA literature means stories and books similar to Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, stuff like that. I consider it being a book that deals especially with the experience of being black, not just having blacks in it.

The problem is that black writers and black books are unfairly lumped together by our race instead of our writing. I won't go into the dreaded AA bookshelf in the bookstores but that is proof that we aren't seen for our writing alone. Our color is seen first but it isn't fair because we have just as much to offer in our books and stories as any other writer.

We just gotta get people to see beyond our color and stop assuming they know what our books are about just because we are black. people need to stop being so concerned with classifying our work and try picking it up to SEE what we all have to offer. It takes us educating whoever is willing to listen. Whatever a minority author wants to write I believe they should be able to and not put in a box by race. The author's color should NOT have anything to do with their books and should not be a factor but sadly it is.

Thanks for posting!
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Stacy-Deanne
African-American Lit

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#801065 - 01/16/13 08:21 PM Re: What makes literature "african america"? [Re: TheDeeMan]
Ije - Literary Fiction Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Newbie

Registered: 07/29/12
Posts: 32
I think i agree with Stacy on this one; the fact that you're a black writer doesn't mean that your work should be defaulted to the african-american genre, regardless of whether or not there are black characters in them. I don't believe that your race should have anything to do with your writing - there are so many non-black authors whose origin are not caucasian, yet their works are not necessarily classified as, say, Indian or Mexican literature, unless, ofcourse, the works are specifically themed as such.

Like Stacy mentioned, books by authors like Tony Morrison, Alice Walker, Donna Hill, Octavia Butler, Terri McMillan are what can be without a doubt tagged as 'black fiction', because their plots and themes are centered around being black and experiencing life as a black person.
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Ije Kanu
Literary Fiction Editor

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