Is the glass half empty or half full? Is the color of your skin a stumbling block or a stepping stone?
Your answer to these questions depends on your perspective. For example, (and I’m not certain whether this is entirely true) but a reporter once asked The Notorious B.I.G. why his first album was called “Ready to Die” and his second album was called, “Life After Death.” He responded, “When I wrote ‘Ready to Die,’ I would leave my house in the morning knowing that I was about to do some things that might get me killed. And I was cool with that because I was ‘Ready to Die.’ But after I started making money and livin the good life, I wasn’t ready to die no more. It was like, “Life After Death.”
So, Biggie’s perspective changed because he changed his circumstances. He went from “ashy to classy.” And this is the reason Black authors are so important; because they can help us to see our lives using the same lens from a different perspective, a perspective we haven’t experienced.
Let’s face it, it’s hard being a Black man or woman in America. And each day we’re faced with a thousand decisions that can have a big impact on our lives. Fortunately, we have Black authors that write books from our own perspective. They entertain us, they teach us lessons, they give us hope and show us the road map to success…or tragic failure. The category is irrelevant; it might be fiction, non-fiction, drama, satire or whatever. The point is that they are writing from the same lens with a different perspective.
My favorite books are about men and woman who have overcome obstacles to become winners, like Malcolm X, Biggie Smalls and Reginald Lewis. I like true stories because they offer proof that it can actually be done. But I also like books that speak to social issues, like The Color Purple and Waiting to Exhale. Of course, books about slavery and extreme oppression are mandatory reading, but modern racism is more subtle, and Black folks define success in different ways. I mean, we don’t need the Underground Railroad because we’ve already traveled that path. But we still need some kind of rail road. And Black authors are there to give us the answers.
Please take a look at my personal collection of books by top selling Black authors. Feel free to leave comments about my books or the books that have inspired you to add your name to the list of winners.