Monday, September 10, 2012

Black Literature and the Democratic Spirit

[By Jerry Ward]

The democratic spirit demands that all voices be heard and that all interests be represented.  In the literary sector of everyday life, the spirit can manifest itself as a risk-free membership plan offered by an African American book club.  If I join the club, I can get three books for “$3, plus shipping & processing and applicable taxes.  I agree to buy 4 more books in the next year.”  If I want to be thrifty, my option is to buy 1 book now and “reduce my commitment to 3 books in 1 year.”  I will then be billed “an added $5.98, plus shipping & processing and applicable taxes.”  Just do the math.

The editor-in-chief of the club assures me I shall not regret joining “a powerhouse of intelligent readers who know what they want and how to get it; great books by today’s best African-American authors, deep discounts on the titles they love, round-the-clock shopping from the comfort of home and easy home delivery.”  I assume the editor-in-chief is telling me the truth.
I am impressed with who the best African American authors are in such categories as fantastic fiction, romantic reads, real lives, Christian living, Christian reads, quality fiction, and self-help/personal development.  Among the best authors are E. N. Joy,  Bishop T. D. Jakes, Walter Mosley, Common (with help from Adam Bradley), Shaquille O’Neal (with help from Jackie MacMullan), Stephen Carter, Tananarive Due, Azarel,  N’Tyse,  Alice Randall, Eric Jerome Dickey, Sapphire, and K’wan.  This partial list suggests that many of the best authors are not taught in colleges .  Are college literature courses in conflict with the democratic spirit?
Perhaps I should join the club, discover what “scandalicious” means, and have my ignorance erased by Power & Beauty, the debut novel by the hip hop artist T. I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.)

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