Literature & Cultural Relativity

The truth is…it is far easier for even me to read fiction books with multicultural characters than otherwise. Don’t get me wrong–I enjoy Bellow, Franzen, Updike and others, and the [classic] Russians are some of my favorite writers–but reading about people I’ve met, people who look like me or have been oppressed, those stories give me so much joy. In graduate school after I shared this revelation with my (monocultural) class, I was accused of not being ‘diverse’ enough. To this I answered: what if your entire shelf was full of books by Morrison, Hughes and Ralph Ellison? If everything you were ever given to read was about the Black lifestlye and Black struggle? And further, what if the stories you enjoyed and the life you lived and the truth you understood was considered secondary to unfamiliar cultures deemed “standard”?

My life, my culture, my truth will not be secondary. Let me be with my stories and I’ll let you be with yours.

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