Remember the renewed literacy initiative? It’s reaching the end of its course. I left the well-known titles (Black Like Me, Mein Kampf, The Kingdom of God is Within You, etc.) for the end, so that I could dovetail into more popular literature.
But, I’m uncertain as where to turn next. What have I learned from these banned books? Well, contrary opinions on church, state, and sex seem to be a recipe for exclusion. And, fame. Additionally, if you’re a contemporary author, being from the East Coast seems to help.
Obfuscation of cause and effect is funny, right?
There is a category of text that I’ve dubbed “New England Fiction.” It’s proudly set in said locale, with a markedly multicultural cast. You barely need two hands to count the lines between the introduction of a character and the proud announcement of their racial background. But, odder still is the segregation. A narrative will carefully describe the superficial traits or behaviors hallmarking a culture; but, never will a protagonist express more than a passing curiosity. There is even a hint of pride in the lack of inter-cultural interaction.
It is often worse than that. Anyone who, as an adult, dabbles in trying to understand another group is treated with badly masked disgust. And, inevitably, they are embarrassed viciously and publicly as a result of a (usually minor) faux pas. Sadly, it’s the rare character who is born from mixed parentage. They suffer only slightly less. Their lot is to be an outsider to all. And if we, the reader, are introduced to their parents; then, “quirky” and “socially awkward” are the charitable adjectives that can be ascribed.
Admittedly, I throughly swallowed the blue pill that was my middle class American public education. So, this sort of reading is revolting to me. I’m aware of the fact that I become what I consume. Accordingly, it’s worrisome the level of popularity this category of text enjoys.
Well, fuck, my Mom would be proud. Despite my best efforts, I’m sensitive to the issue of race.