Our own copy editor takes a break from defending the Oxford comma to share her favorite books, new and old, from the African diaspora.By Tanya TrowellFeb 2, 2017 4:24 PM
We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color. - Maya Angelou
I wish there was no Black History Month. None. Nada. I wish we didn’t need it. This was also the wish of the optimistic Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard PhD scholar who planted the seed back in 1926. Woodson believed that America “would willingly recognize the contributions of black Americans as a legitimate and integral part of the history of this country,” thereby alleviating the need for what he created.
Fast-forward many decades, when I was in school, wishing that the representatives of black history were equally brag-worthy (like Joey Vertolli in 2nd grade, who was so proud of Christopher Columbus, LOL), and less cringe-worthy (Jim from Huck Finn? Sorry, Teach, kids don’t get satire). And later on, I wish that I didn’t literally fall out of a beanbag when I first heard about Bessie Coleman, who had just as much derring-do as Amelia Earhart. I wish that I’d seamlessly and consistently learned about all these cool people of color who also contributed to the world at large and had meaningful things to say. (Actually I did, but at home — thanks, Mom and Dad!) It’s too bad that many schools still receive a failing grade when it comes to black issues, especially in states with fewer black residents. Fortunately, with Audible, we regularly expand, celebrate, and educate with audiobooks.
Remembering slavery and the civil rights movement are important in the equitable shaping of America, so as not to repeat past mistakes, but there are also the ongoing struggles, accomplishments, and facets of the African diaspora. So in my below recommended listening list, I include something from yesterday, something from today. Something funny, something uncomfortable. Something strange, something normal … but with a colorful twist. I’d like to think that we could all, every now and then, walk in someone else’s shoes and step away with a sense of oneness and understanding (like, perhaps Chris Columbus just got a bad batch of compasses?). And maybe, just maybe, we’ll prove Mr. Woodson right when we achieve Shared History Year — how’s that sound?