Being an African-American Writer

Being African-American (as if you didn’t know), you might be a little surprised I haven’t written a post in relation to Black History Month. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I really couldn’t come up with a topic to write about. Until now…

I recently started reading a book I bought years ago. An anthology of stories written by Black authors. There are two volumes, but they span nearly 100 years worth of literature. It covers a spectrum of time periods and themes. Besides Hughes and Angelou, there are a lot of authors in this book I’ve never heard of. I’m kind of ashamed. I guess there’s this perception that I should be looking up to these authors rather than someone like Stephen King. But how can I be inspired by a writer I’ve never heard of before?

The truth is I can’t. It’s not because I don’t care; it’s just that what I write is a lot different from what they wrote. And most of their stories had some sort of message, whereas mine do not. But I don’t see anything wrong with it. I just write differently than them.

I will say the one thing I’ve noticed as I peruse libraries and bookstores is that there aren’t a lot of African-American writers published. There are few stores and libraries with a section devoted to African-American literature. I think it’s kind of sad. I would read more current African-American authors if I knew about them. I know they’re out there. Writers of science fiction, horror, contemporary, historical fiction, poetry. Writers whose stories reflect the African-American culture and struggles that African-Americans face today as they did in the days of slavery. 

I hope to one day be published. I strive to receive the recognition that Angelou or Toni Morrison have, but it may not happen. No big deal. I want to show this generation and future generations to know the possibility of success in the creative fields. 


3 thoughts on “Being an African-American Writer

  1. Our library has a red sticker it places on the spines of African-American literature. They even have a row or two (not many) devoted to those books. Most seem to be romance 😉 I can’t think of a single black fantasy/horror writer. I can think of several literary writers that I’ve enjoyed. I don’t read writers based on race but I do actively look for books with characters that are different than me. My mother is part Mexican so I have purposefully looked for books that reflect her side of the family. Like you, most of them don’t write what I write. I think even though the anthology you are reading isn’t reflective of what you write, at some level there are “writing” lessons to be learned from them. I think with the amount of indie publishing currently available, that will give people more exposure to different writers because it gives writers a greater chance of being published beyond traditional. Keep writing. Don’t give up. Le me know when you publish.


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