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Troy

Black Writers Dominate the 67th National Book Awards

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Troy    982

I'm here for my fourth National Book Awards (NBA) Ceremony.  The NBA is the Academy Award of the book world.  It is always an honor to attend.  The most celebrated authors on Earth are honored here.  I, as usual, focus on the authors of African descent, and there is no shortage of these authors honored this year. I'm making these posts live, from the event. The entire program may be found here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/DNpxugLaDgG

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Troy    982

“BET Presents the National Book Awards” —Larry Wilmore 

For real, after decades of barely recognizing the existence of Black literature, the National Book Foundation gives 3 of 4 National Book Awards to Black writers!  But it was not about correcting past wrongs--it was about recognizing great literature

Below Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Accept Literarian Award for Outstanding Service:

 

 

 

 

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Troy    982

I spotted Luvvie Ajayi, Elizabeth Alexander, Rita Dove, Terrance Hayes, Saeed Jones, Walter Mosley, Eisa Ulen, Sofia Quintero, and Willie Perdomo 

Below I'm with Dr. Brenda Green.  For you hip-hop heads; Talib Kweli's mom.

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Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis Wins National Book Award and give a short but moving acceptance speech!

 

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Troy    982

I just changed the topic of this conversation to: "Black Writers Dominate the 67th National Book Awards," because they did.

This evening, in between classes, I began running searches on the awards ceremony just to see how well my content ranked and to comment on other sites sharing my content where appropriate.

Would you believe many people believe that giving three of the four awards to Black writers is a result of "white guilt?"  I actually had a version of this conversation with a white attendee last night.  I simply said, "...the winning books obviously reflect a high quality of writing."  Here is a typical comment in left-leaning New York Times.

"Is it even possible to win a major lit award anymore without being a black male writing about the African American experience, and in particular slavery and racism? Apparently not, just as there are apparently no other worthy or noble topics in the world. The quality of these books notwithstanding, it's hard not to view all these recent wins (NBA's, Man Booker Prize, etc.) as evidence of a pervasive strain of white guilt among the liberal intelligentsia. Time to stop treating books as props...and literature as politics."

Sure Black writers were absolutely over-represented at the National book awards not just this year, but last year too.  Is the National Book Foundation trying to correct for previously overlooking Black writers?  I seriously doubt it, but who knows?  

Besides, this is not the first time three Black writes won the award.  Back in 1983 Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, and Joyce Carol Thomas won National Book Awards.

But let's for argument sake, say the National Book Foundation is indeed giving conspiring to give awards to Black writers to make up for the years they were overlooked.  Is that even possible?  How long would it take?  Below is a chart which breaks down the number of Black winners since the award was launched.

I attended the last four National Book Awards. In those four years, seven Black writers won the award. To put that in perspective: The award has been given for 57 years, it took 42 years before 7 Black writers won!  It took another 20 years before another seven author were given the honor.  

 

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Even before I ran the numbers, I was fairly confident that Black writers were historically underrepresented.  Of course, this lack of recognition can not be attributed to a lack of talent.  Many great writers who never won, Baldwin, Hughes, Wright, Morrison and on.

Obviously, the doors to mainstream publishing were closed to all but a few talented Black writers.  Indeed it has been illegal for us to even read the majority of the time we've been here.  How many great writers did we miss out on because Black people were systematically prevented from being educated let alone being published?

How many potentially great writers are lost, in 2016, because they aren't being educated?

Today, when a handful of our best writers are finally being recognized, why can't it just be for pure talent? Why does "white guilt" have to be part of the mix?  Racism reveals itself in the strangest places...

If the Trump election tells us anything, it tells us who we really are as a nation.  Comments like the one that I posted from the New York Times above just reinforces what we, in the Black community already know. 

Of course, Larry Wilmore's joke about the book awards being hosted by BET, was probably not funny to many in the audience last night and probably exacerbated some ill sentiment. But Larry called President Obama "my nigga" in a room full of white folks, so you know he'll say anything, at any time, in front of anyone.

I commend the National Book Foundation for providing a platform which is not afraid to recognize Black talent, obviously doing so generated some criticism. 

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Troy    982

My John Lewis, shown above (higher up in this conversation), has more 5,500 views in less than two days. The reason for the greater number of views that normal is that Rachel Maddow used a clip from my video on her show, and credited me.  Normally this video would have had at most a couple hundred views at this point, but just that simple mention on her show increased it to thousands. She also copied me on a tweet of the video posted --blowing up my twitter account as a result :-)

 

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CDBurns    620

As we both know all it takes is a consistent cosign from a person of status for your video or information to take off. 5500 is a huge number for a book, but when you realize that a 22 year old kid doing book reviews is a YouTube millionaire, you realize how crazy the entire social sharing system really is. It's awesome that she shared it, what should happen now and it would be great if it did, you should be more of a correspondent for the book topics.

Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about with book reviews. Look up a channel on YouTube called FightMediocrity. I'm not linking it because the dude doesn't need anymore subscribers, lol. All he does is book reviews and he is making a killing.

Nice job though on this!!!!

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Troy    982

Thanks Chris!

There are already plenty of people reviewing books on Youtube, but most of these book reviewers, that I've found, are not getting many views. But FightMediocrity is quite a good channel and I'm not surprised the guy is doing well.

Man, I would be happy to be a correspondent on books, but what platform would be willing to pay for this service?

You are right; book videos are tough to get a lot of viewers; CSpan's BookTV, The National Book Foundation and others published youtube videos of the National Book Awards too.  Even if you ignored my "viral" John Lewis video, my videos got more views because I posted them first and actively promoted them.  

That is really saying something because the others had teams of people shooting their videos, with high-end equipment, and produced videos of much higher quality.  I was by myself, with a crappy camera, running around drinking and socializing the whole night  but ultimately I was more effective.  God only knows what I'd be capable of with a decent budget and staff.

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CDBurns    620

Screw a budget and staff. You are right on point with what you're doing. It's all about the cosign. That FightMediocrity is amazing isn't it? If you simply found a different way of doing what he does, you'd kill it. Then again, you know what? This kid didn't even get a cosign, he ran YT ads and has a very catchy style. You simply need to review the "popular" books in a catchy way. I'm giving all of my time to YT and my site now. Sneaker Sites are now IPO'ing and selling for millions. I'm all in.

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