Wednesday, February 29, 2012

White People, Black Stories Wraps Up with 'Run' by Ann Patchett

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

So, today is the last day of February, the last day of Black History Month and the last day of my ambitious project to bring attention to White people who tell Black stories. At the back of my mind, when conceiving this list, I was feeling kind of peeved about the fact that White authors can tell Black stories and become wildly successful doing so, yet Black authors telling the same stories are continuously marginalized. I also wanted to demonstrate, in this month dedicated to celebrating the contributions Black people have made to this country, that clearly Black achievement, Black history, Black culture and Black heroes and heroines don't belong to a collective Black community. They belong to everyone and anyone who wants to tell a good story. Unfortunately, these same heroes and heroines celebrated in the stories of White authors (and their White audiences), aren't so widely embraced off the page.

Of course, there's always a lesson to be learned when trying something new. While I'm still kind of peeved by the inherent inequality of praise given to White people telling Black stories compared to their Black counterparts, I also feel that in many cases, we should feel honored and thankful that any author feels so moved by the lives of Black people that they want to tell their stories. And as many of you dear readers pointed out, isn't it better that at least these stories are being told? If the author does their research and tells the story with respect and aims for authenticity, isn't that enough? In many cases, I say yes.If I love a story, I can't hate on the storyteller simply because she doesn't share the same racial background as her characters. That would be borderline racist and just plain dumb. And it would limit me from enjoying some really great books. As an example, today's offering, Run by Ann Patchett.

I reviewed Run on the Meltingpot a while back. You can read that review here. A story about a White father with two adopted African-American sons, Run is a true rumination on race, family and identity. It is extremely well written and after reading it, I was convinced Patchett must be married to a Black man or have some of her own Black kids. Something that would have given such incredible insight into these issues. But no, she's just a really good writer who likes to tell good stories and isn't afraid to tackle characters who have nothing to do with her own life. Needless to say, I was impressed by Run, as was the New York Times Bestsellers list.

So, dear readers, the month ends with lessons learned, new books discovered and old favorites remembered. I hope you enjoyed the ride. But before we go, what books do you think should have made my list? White People Telling Black Stories? Let's hear them.

I'm still listening.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fear not, black people can tell white stories AND get more credit for it