Reading Anti-Racist Nonfiction Is a Start. But Don’t Underestimate the Power of Black Fiction

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love being the center of attention. But for my fifth book, Party of Two, I was compelled to write about a character who shies away from the spotlight. Yes, she’s a Black woman like me, and yes, she’s a lawyer, which I was. But just because Olivia and I are alike on the surface doesn’t mean we’re the same.

The five Black women at the heart of each of my books are all different from one another, and from me, which means I’ve had to discover their histories and quirks one by one. For Olivia, caught by her love of a man whose life as a public figure threatens to derail her own ambitions, I had to figure out what she was scared of, what brought her joy and how to balance the two. In other words, I needed my empathy.

Writing fiction helps me relate with people who have inner and outer lives different from my own. Reading fiction can do the same thing. To find that kind of empathy for Black people—for Black lives of all kinds—we need look no further than fiction.

As antiracism books fill up the best-seller lists, I’m thrilled that people want to learn more about racism, white supremacy and their own role in both. But when we say Black Lives Matter, we mean the whole of Black lives—not just when we die at the hands of the police and not just when our lives intersect with white lives to our detriment. Racism is not the only thing to know about what it means to be Black. Our joys, our sorrows, our love, our grief, our struggles to fit in, our families, our accomplishments and our triumphs—these things also matter. Black children matter, and not only the ones killed before their time. You may think you already know that, but history has proved otherwise.

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Black lives are not a problem to be solved or an academic text that can be studied. To recognize Black lives as ones to celebrate, empathize with and care about, here’s your antiracism work: read more fiction by and about Black people.

Multiple studies have shown that reading certain types of fiction increases a reader’s empathy for others in the world. Fiction gives you a window into both lives you know and recognize and ones you don’t. It helps you to

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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