June 13, 2008

Black Enough?

Preston Allen, whose novel All or Nothing will be reviewed in the New York Times this Sunday (June 15th, 2008), writes a must-read post about race, ethnicity, and storytelling.
Yes, when I was a young writer, I used to feel self-imposed pressure when I did not write black stories. I had stuff that I wrote for myself, and then I had “serious” stuff that I wrote for the black community. Like I said, I was young. At the same time, I was very much interested in science fiction, thrillers, and classic American lit 101, most of which did not have much to do, thematically, with African Americans. Thus, many of my stories were already “roaming beyond the African American thing,” but I felt a little bit guilty about it. Like I was selling out my race. I was young. So young. When I grew up, I said, “I am going to write what I write and let the chips fall where they may. I will master my craft and become the best writer that I can be. Readers will like me because I am a good storyteller, not because I have a certain color skin.”

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