I’m about as white as they come, but I love reading historical fiction with black main characters. I think it gives me an appreciation for a culture that I’m not a part of and a part of history that I can’t imagine. I watched a mini-series called Lost in Austen, which was perfect for this post, but I can’t find the exact quote now. 😦 The main character, Amanda, has a little door in her bathroom that she finds out lets her go back to England when all the Jane Austen books were written. She has a best friend who is black and she wants her to come and see what its like. She does it without even thinking about what it could mean for her friend. The friend lets her know that she needs air conditioning and indoor plumbing and chocolate and she reminds her that she’s BLACK. What this long-winded statement is trying to get at is that not so long ago black people were not considered equal and before that, they weren’t considered humans. Can you imagine? Not me. I think that by banning books like these, you lose out on incredible discussions.
Here’s a list of the Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color 1990-1999
Some of the banned books that I really “enjoyed” were:
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
Song of Solomon
by Toni Morrison
Song of Solomon begins with one of the most arresting scenes in our century’s literature: a dreamlike tableau depicting a man poised on a roof, about to fly into the air, while cloth rose petals swirl above the snow-covered ground and, in the astonished crowd below, one woman sings as another enters premature labor. The child born of that labor, Macon (Milkman) Dead, will eventually come to discover, through his complicated progress to maturity, the meaning of the drama that marked his birth. Toni Morrison’s novel is at once a romance of self-discovery, a retelling of the black experience in America that uncovers the inalienable poetry of that experience, and a family saga luminous in its depth, imaginative generosity, and universality. It is also a tribute to the ways in which, in the hands of a master, the ancient art of storytelling can be used to make the mysterious and invisible aspects of human life apparent, real, and firm to the touch.
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.