Books were (and still are) my way of understanding the world. When I felt like being a girl and being a nerd didn’t make sense in the same body, Hermione Granger was there to teach me better. When awkward middle school crushes threatened to overtake all my cognitive functions, Eragon flew me off on fantastical journeys that stretched my brain further than a braces-filled conversation with any boy ever could.

But devoted as I was to the universes hiding between the covers of my favorite books, I couldn’t help but start to wonder why I never read about people who looked like me. I didn’t see us at journalism competitions, on TV discussing New York Times bestsellers, or assigned on any syllabi. Did Black writers not exist? Or worse yet, were Black people just not worth reading and writing about? To have the one thing that makes sense to you in this world reject your existence almost entirely is no simple diss. It tells you your stories don’t matter, your voice is better off unused, your problems aren’t real. Or worse yet, that you are the problem.

For a long time, this forced me to reconsider my love affair with literature; unrequited love isn’t really my thing. I spent a long time avoiding books because I didn’t want to be antagonized even in a fantasy realm, to always be the nondescript footnote in someone else’s memoir. It was only after immersing myself in the words of Toni Morrison, Frederick Douglass, Junot Díaz, CLR James, Maya Angelou and other Black authors that I fell back into the warmth of literary intimacy.

Black nerds, escapism, and why we need more diverse books

(via the dopest ethiopienne)


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