Race in Literature

The case of majoring in English

has always been a debate when I enrolled into school at Virginia Commonwealth University. It has lot to do with the fact that I spent a majority of my childhood reading so many novels that I knew it would be a waste of money to reread those same novels in college. So, I decided to major in creative writing instead.

Recently, I read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and I’m kind of upset that I wasn’t exposed to it earlier during my childhood. I always look for novels that integrate the themes of culture, now that I’m older and can appreciate it, but had I read something similar during high school I probably would have embraced the idea of being an English major.

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I wrote for The Commonwealth Times’ Opinion section about this issue because I feel so strongly that it is a reason why many students neglect reading books today. There isn’t enough to relate to. Who wants to read something that they can’t empathize with or understand?

One of the problems with introducing English as a subject is the importance of teaching that English is more than a white male who writes long sentences that some don’t understand. English is an everyday need.

Slowly, but surely, English is being regarded as a world language which insinuates that what those of England speak is what the entire world should speak (but that’s a different argument for another day).

My point being, that the miseducation of English throughout a child’s K-12 years can deter them from so much knowledge.

I mean, if you think about, English is everywhere. It is how we ask for food, tweet, post pictures with amazing captions, and listen to song lyrics. So when there aren’t enough novels with characters of color being taught as the standard go-to for high school children it can make it hard to keep their attention span.

And, I know that there are many authors who try their hardest everyday to redefine what the meaning of literature happens to be but in order for the change to be made there has to be the hiring of teachers in under paid schools who want to expose their minority students to amazing literature.

Key word “want,” because without the passion to teach amazing books then it can be a repeat of the same standard curriculum that has jargon that the student doesn’t understand.

Those teachers alongside the writing of amazing novelist can produce great outcomes in the life of a child who then can appreciate English.

Until we can see change in the American school systems, as writers we hold the responsibility of not only producing works hat will bring in a decent amount of royalties, but also creating for the children that will follow our trails.

Remember, at one point in time, if you’re a writer reading this, you were reading an author and wondered just what you could do to follow their footsteps in order to have some of your work on someone’s bookshelf.

Create the same room for diversity in literature by making characters that are ethnic and text that aren’t too long and overly wordy. Consider your audience who doesn’t want to read. Make that audience read.



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