National Black Book Festival


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Urban Books

If you love to read, then you love to visit book stores for author signings and book fairs. Last week the Charleston County Friends of the Library had their “That Summer Book Fair,” I’m on the board of the Friends of the Library as well as a volunteer at the library. It amazes me how many books there are out there by African Americans who are not getting the play as other types of authors. Sure, we have Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey radio personalities, TV and other media who display our works, but it’s not enough. You would be surprise of how many books there are out there by us for us. Not just history, but it appears to be a trend of “Urban” books. Once Terry McMillan brought out the “Black Women is sexy, intelligent and does enjoy sex,” we are not in the “Drug, Sex and not rock and roll” of 50cent, Terry Woods (Name some more). Now, don’t get me wrong, I buy those books by the truck loads to give to young black men.

I use to teach Accounting, internet and English classes at one of these small schools where you pay gazillion amounts of dough to learn a trade and hopefully, and I mean hopefully find a job. One of the English classes was filled with 23 black men. Ages from 18 to 50. Either been in jail or just been floating around with “their boys” with nothing to do and nothing to think about or to aspire to. I knew I was not going to get through to them with the past and present participle, nouns, verbs and all that other crap (according to them). You know what they did in that class? They talked to each other, slouched in their chairs, rolled their eyes, and everything else. Well, I’m not one to give up on any black man in this or any other age, so I did what I do best! I brought them some great books:

Terry Woods –

ALIBI - $9.99 – Daisy Fothergill, stripper, working with organized crime and involved with drugs, is dating a fast talker who dumps her. Now she is seeking refuge and reckoning.

DUTCH - $9.99 – James Bernard Jr. a.k.a. Dutch is the most dangerous criminal in New York. The boy is “bad”.

TRUE TO THE GAME I, II and III – All $9.99 - Terry Woods is one of the best Street-lit writers in the urban community and now the world. She struggled for many years getting her books published and like so many black authors, she started selling these books herself before, finally, someone with intelligence realized how good she was and still is.

K’Wan and 50 Cent –

BLOW (G UNIT BOOK) - $9.00 – This was one of the books I gave to the class and they had no idea that 50 cent (big rapper and movie star) had books.

I made a deal with these guys in class. The class was four days a week for one and a half hour. I told them to listen to me on Monday and lets cover all of the required chapters, take a quiz on Tuesday and the rest of the week read the book (I let them choose) and write me a quick paragraph on Thursday. I figure, I didn’t have a damn thing to lose but my job (This was a part-time position, so if I lost the job, I had a full time job), so my lost was only that these guys would’nt learn that they are valuable, and I was not going to give up on them.

It worked. They did not know “we” (African Americans) wrote books that they understood and they loved it. I brought more and more. Didn’t care if I was broke, because I was getting through to them. I just couldn’t give up.