“In Which She Espouses Dissenting Opinions,” a post at Finding Wonderland: The Writing YA Weblog, they supported our efforts here at the Brown Bookshelf, and I thank them for that. They also had some concerns about our name. I’d like to express my thoughts.
9 times out of 10, when I type the name ‘The Brown Bookshelf,’ it flows off my fingers as ‘The Black Bookshelf.’ I have to backspace and retype it. I’m old-school. I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, the ‘black power,’ and ‘black is beautiful’ generation. I’ve never been uncomfortable with the use of the word ‘black’ when referring to my race. African-American as a label came later, popularized, I think, by the Cosby Show.
When I was invited to be a part of this initiative, the name had already been chosen. Good thing, too. Have you ever tried to make an important decision committee style? It’s not easy.
Somewhere along the line, I must have failed to pass along my pride for the use of the word black. It offends my six-year-old son. He corrects me, “Daddy, I’m not black; I’m brown.” When my daughter was a child, it offended her, too. And it offends some grown folk’s I know, too.
Labels are a sensitive topic in the Black community. In 100-plus years, we’ve worn many — some given to us, other’s we’ve given to ourselves. We’ve been called N-ggers. Then is was Negro. Later, Black and African-American. An elderly white guy I know once used the word “Afro-Ameri-black-man.” Poor thing, he was confused.
Black is a powerful word, sometimes polarizing in the black community. Although I wasn’t in on the discussion, I knew right away why ‘Black’ didn’t make the cut. I think it was a good call.
Just my thoughts.