Bone of Contention – African American Interests

Daily Prompt:  Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply — it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.

Let me start this post off by saying that most of all, I love bookstores.  E-books are convenient in a pinch, but there is nothing like browsing through a bookstore, discovering new treasures, the smell of the pages, the crackle of new leaves, the velvet smoothness of the covers . . .

Okay, so you get it, I love bookstores.  So, this particular rant is not against bookstores per se but against the policy that some bookstores practice.

The “African-American Interests” section.

I visited a local bookstore yesterday to attend a book signing and reading for several local authors.  Once that was over, I figured to browse through the shelves . . . just to check and see if there had been any books published with a similar theme and/or content to my as-yet-unpubbed novel.  Research.

Anyway, I happened upon the “African-American Interests” section.  Authors of all other cultural and ethnic groups are organized in the store by their work, their product, Fiction/Non-fiction and Genre.

African-American authors are identified by their race.

Works by Toni Morrison, Tayari Jones, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes are hugged up right next to “I Love Me Some Big Black Dick” and “Where’s My Money, Bitch?”

And if that isn’t bad enough, the books appeared to have been just thrown up on the shelves in no real order that I could discern, so you pretty much had to examine the whole shelf to pick out any particular book.

In 21st century America, even here in the deep south, is there a need for the “African-American Interest” section?

The prompt requires me to defend this practice, so here goes:

1.  if a customer just wants to read works by AA authors, this practice allows easier access.  Kind of like a Wal-Mart experience; one stop shopping.

2.  perhaps store managers have the intention to display not only the wealth of published African-American authors but to display the diversity of their talents and interests as well.

One final note:  this practice may have been (emphasis on MAY)  a needed and acceptable practice 20 or 30 years ago, but I’m having trouble understanding how it can be justified now.

What do you think?

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