The prevalent thought in libraries has been that multicultural titles are thrust upon the populace mostly during Black History month or Latino Heritage moon, or Latvian Appreciation week; during the "regular" year, though, titles that reflect "our" shared history (meaning white) are the ones we push.
So, sure Dan Brown or Stephen King all year round. But, Donald Goines or Baldwin, wait until February. In the same token, it took Gary Soto having to write children's books for his works to be read outside of Latino audiences. The same can be said about Rodriguez. I have a feeling that Hunger of Memory was so embraced by Americans because it argues against teaching American children anything but American English. I have never read Hunger of Memory, this is just wild and obscene conjecture. But, you get my point.
Therefore, Henry Louis Gates or Richard Rodriguez, we care about what you write, but not until the calendar gods and our p.c. gods can agree on an arbitrary month wherein your works are "celebrated," and read and appreciated. The other 11 months, we pretend that your bounty is non-existent.
But is that really what is in our best interest as a people? Are we supposed to revel in our diversity only up to the point that it is useful as a perennial salve on the wounds of inequality that race conjures? Or, can we make a clean break from the charade of political correctness and learn to rely on the works coming from minority voices in minority works.
Race is always a trick subject in this country. But, we will continue to spin our wheels if we don't manage to get some traction, a modicum of perspective and genuine dialogue, nay curiosity, about minorities, their stories and scholarship. The now is filled with promises about racial integrity and the slaying of segregation, but if we allow the political correctness to abound and allow feigned consolations of diversity to continue, our country might never recover from it's past.
Where do we stand since 2006 on multicultural acquisitions? In "The Case for Inclusive Multicultural Collections in the School Library" by Rochelle Arsenault and Penny Brown that appeared in the California School Library Association's Journal in the Fall of 2007, both librarians agree that "culturally reflective fiction and nonfiction books should be celebrated every day, not only during relevant events" (2007, pg.20). More importantly, they argue that, "Through reading about people from all cultures, students can gain an appreciation for their own cultures. They can realize that despite our differences there is a basic sameness to life, which is slightly altered, but not basically changed, across ethnic lines" (2007, pg. 20).
I betcha right now you are wondering how silly the idea is that we share a "basic sameness" really is when for so long we were being taught that we have to celebrate our differences. In addition, it might seem pretty crazy to be a morsel in the melting pot or a cherry tomatoe in the race salad when people keep talking about being samerific, insipid, and bland. Well, that's because the metaphors that we use to talk about race have also morphed. Notice that no one talks about the human race-stew that comprised American in the late 80's. That's because the updated metaphor asks Americans to look at race as a product of multiculturalism. We have moved towards a basic sameness that is comprised of all our differences.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.