December 1, 2007

Reading While Black

I read and I'm black. That didn't seem like such a strange thing until I hit high school and realized that I read more than most blacks I knew. I read YA novels, Popular Mechanics, biographies, classic medieval tomes, newspapers. I read while walking, while knitting, during slow moments in Health class. Truth was, I probably read more than most white folks I knew (okay, maybe not as much as my best friend Ginger who was a short sassy white girl).

Trouble became my middle name when I not only read lots of stuff but I started writing. Then I went from just a nerdy black girl to meddlesome. It didn't help that I heard somebody say (a black person, I think) that if you want to hide something from a (insert N-word here) you need to put it in a book. There were a lot of other not so nice things I'd heard about black folks and intelligence but that one struck a chord.

I started writing about biblical racial reconciliation (RRECON) in the early nineties shortly after becoming a co-leader of a RRECON discussion group made of whites and blacks from different churches. We'd get together once a month and discuss some RRECON nonfiction book or racially-charged current event and I'd write up these essays and email them out to everyone between meetings.

Pretty soon I got a reputation for being an angry black female. Truth is, I'm anything but 'angry black female.' Intense about race and faith? Yes. But not angry. Okay, my hairstyle (down my back and locked in dreds now for more than 12 years) does lend itself to the angry persona but that's not why I wear my hair this way. (I'll save that one for another blog).

So, now that I hope I've established that I'm not angry at anyone (and not out to get anyone angry at me with my nonconfrontational self), I would like to invite you take a survey. If you are a person of color and read Christian fiction, I'd love for you to have you fill out the survey.

I'm not profiling anyone or trying to exclude any of our brothers and sisters of the lighter hue. They are certainly free to take the survey as well. It's just that I'm curious about some things. And someone once told me that if you want answers you've got to ask a few questions. So here I am asking questions. I want to understand what it is that makes you, as a person of color, want to read fiction.

With your conscent, I'll be posting your responses on this blog. And later this month, I'll have interviews from two Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) authors and two CBA acquisitions editors. The purpose of having those voices here with your comments will be to help answer some other questions I've had for some time about racism in Christian fiction. (Yeah, you read that right, I pulled the race card.)

Race is hard to talk about and hardly talked about, especially in the house of God. That shouldn't be so. Sometimes I may come across too strong or even angry. If I do, call me on that. I promise you I'll try my best to come back honest, and loving. You're my sister (or brother). If we're in Christ; we're family. Let's treat each other that way. For real, Matthew 17 style.

Okay, this post has rambled on long enough. I'm black and I read; and I also write. I am a little crazy but I ain't mad.

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