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Troy

"Black People Don't Read"

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blackpeopledontread.jpg

 

A bit extreme, because many Black people do read. However, I would concede most don't. But this is true of ALL people.

 

People are informed, but they are, in my opinion, are informed about things that don't matter very much. Again, this is not just limited to Black people.

 

Our problem is that we, with a few hundred years of oppression in America, can't afford to be so uninformed. We really do need to work twice as hard just to catch up.

 

My laptop crashed today, I've spent hours trying to get it to boot and im tired...

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On 12/17/2018 at 9:15 PM, Troy said:

blackpeopledontread.jpg

 

A bit extreme, because many Black people do read. However, I would concede most don't. But this is true of ALL people.

 

People are informed, but they are, in my opinion, are informed about things that don't matter very much. Again, this is not just limited to Black people.

 

Our problem is that we, with a few hundred years of oppression in America, can't afford to be so uninformed. We really do need to work twice as hard just to catch up.

 

My laptop crashed today, I've spent hours trying to get it to boot and im tired...

Brotha Troy, that has long been a knock against us as a collective. Strangely, it has survived for much too long. I do admit that it so convenient as I have used it on countless occasions to force home a point. Honestly, as much as I hate to admit it, but I barely read. Sure, I read snippets here and there. In this fast-paced, I have become a browser whereas I was once a fierce reader. Yet, there is a blanket exception to this rule because brrothas in the joint READ! Inside reading is fundamental. Inside, if you wants news, you have to read about it because, of all places, televised news is blase. News rarely affects prisoners so more time is spent watching sports and videos. When I was in the pen in Atlanta the first time, there were guys there that had  well-stocked libraries in their cells. My crime partner and I were among the youngest there, and I was forever reading as I was hardly without a book or a magazine. The old heads noticed this and they would bring me books to the dining room where I worked. I had my own table where I read. Guys that were old enough at the time to be my father, supplied me with a mind-boggling array of books----all serious literature. I recall sitting at my table reading Freud. The next day, an old white convict gave me a book about Carl Jung. Reading the ART of War got me editions of books by Clausewitz and Otto Von Bismarck and Machiavelli. It was truly like guys would walk past my table to see what I was reading,and then they would bring me something even more in depth. And now, I barely pick up a book. That's sad. Now, we want info on the go, so we fall for fake news or second hand news or worse yet no news. Trying to keep up is so time=consuming that if you don't hear through the grapevine, it didn't happen. I conclude with an admission. Of all the things I get down on myself about is the fact that I never stopped to teach a close friend how to read. Damn, we were in prison for ten years together and I never taught him to read. I wrote all his letters for him, but I could have taught him to read. I was once chastised  by another friend who told me that I was wrong for not teaching this guy this read, but I was too busy writing my books. I was so convinced that I was writing the next best novel that I was so caught up that I never taught my friend to read. It wasn't that I never thought about it. I did. I even planned to write stories about him to  use to teach him to read. The sad thing, Brotha Troy, is that I knew what to do becaause on an earlier stretch in the joint,  I was at a prison where they wanted to teach inmates to read, but they knew they just couldn't put anyone in charge so it was decided to use the Muslim community to spearhead the program. They knew how well respected Muslims were in the joint so they taught us so we could teach the rest of the population who didn't read. They knew the guys would trust us. We were taught what was called The Laubach Method and this is the text we taught from. I had no excuse. Just think, I blew the chance to give someone the gift of reading. Wow......I don't think I will ever live that down, but I have made up my mind. I am going to find him one day and apologize. The man was my cellmate for 10 long years and I never taught him to read, and I pray to God that I am never so selfish again in my life.

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Not enough Black people read. It is a fact proven by research and tons of data undergirding that minority children struggle in reading and perform poorly in reading and math compared to their non-minority counterparts. While there are factions of us who read, there are far too few of us that do. Inner city youth are more inclined to pick up a gun than a book. The more important question is how do we change the narrative? I have a book and literary club where we promote creative writing and the literature arts, two things that are not promoted here in the "dirty south," but generally speaking, a lot of black people, even women, just don't like to read. 

 

And for those who do, I agree that they read content that matters little and content that does nothing to promote effective communication. I agree that not enough of us read and it's simply a damn shame. 

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@Word Lovers your voice is welcomed and needed here. Judging by your entire comment I presume the following statement was an exaggeration to make a point:

 

13 hours ago, Word Lovers said:

Inner city youth are more inclined to pick up a gun than a book

 

Also, given the same preparation and environmental factors minority children perform as well as anyone in reading and math. The following may be true if you are comparing  poor minority kids from bad school with rich white ones from great schools:

 

13 hours ago, Word Lovers said:

It is a fact proven by research and tons of data undergirding that minority children struggle in reading and perform poorly in reading and math compared to their non-minority counterparts.

 

These hyperbolic and unqualifed statements are the one racists make to justify their beliefs of Black inferiority.

 

However, your literary club and avocation increased reading are extremely important and needed. 

 

 

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First let me say that my thoughts/opinions are my own. However, our Club was founded because we saw a need to help promote literacy, so I just want to be clear that I'm not speaking on behalf of the Club in this discussion. When I saw the post about Black People Don't Read, I responded as Tanisca. Please note that in the record. 

 

So, I live in an urban area, not far from the inner city, but I do research in education so my statement about the gun was not meant as an exaggeration. Also, I think we tend to want to believe all the good things about the best of us and ignore the facts about the rest of us. We know that some black people read, but we also know that many more do not. Some simply don't like to and others, as you've said, read about things that are not all that informative.  But on the whole, I believe we are less read than our counterparts. 

 

As for the schools, I agree that we should compare apples to apples. Even then, though, African-Americans lag behind. (see https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/publications/stt2017/pdf/2018039LA4.pdf)   

 

Admittedly, I have a lot to say about schools, so I'll try not to ramble. There should not be anything such thing as a "bad school." Think about that. What makes the school bad? The Children? The Teachers? The Administration? Policies? Here's the thing. I live in a city where all of our schools are 100 percent charter. A lot of the teachers cannot pass a battery of basic skills tests (Praxis I), yet they stand before our kids on a daily basis trying to teach them when they can hardly read themselves. And yes, the administrators who hire them do so knowing full well that they are hiring an unqualified teacher--but they cite the teacher shortage, etc. 

 

Yet, we have some charter schools here who educate the same type of kids, impoverished, inner city...but those kids do well because those schools selective admission, although they're public, and have highly qualified teachers. Same kind of kid but different school environment, so I agree with your point to an extent that schools matter, but research shows that teacher quality is the main factor in increasing a child's reading/math proficiency. And do you know what else, kids who attend those selective public charter schools are required to read a specific number of books per academic year, excluding what the curriculum already requires. So here again, we see that reading has to be forced. 

 

I have strong views about black stereotypes, so I understand, I think, why some people are quick to reject a negative truth about us. But just because it's a negative truth does not make it any less than the truth. We have a lot of work to do. Thank you for welcoming my voice and engaging me in this discourse in a professional way. I await your response. 

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5 hours ago, Word Lovers said:

What makes the school bad? The Children? The Teachers? The Administration? Policies?

 

Yes, all of these things made a school bad. I'm also an educator with over 10 years of experience, most of it at the college level.  But I've also taught at-risk youth and adult learners.

 

The data you shared does show that there is a large gap in scores based upon income.  This gap has remained unchanged over 20 years, so it is a strong indicator. Unfortunately, was no breakdown by income and race.  If there was, I'm sure you'd see little or no disparity once you account for income.

 

I'm familiar with the data on Black literacy and reading rates, and have written about this quite a bit on the subject over the years. The Atlantic reported a few years ago that the person MOST likely to read a book is a educated Black woman. As a bookseller, with over 2 decades of experience, this comes as no surprise.  

 

I also know that you can't look at Black literacy with an American lense. A third of Americans will end the year without reading a single book -- most of these people will be white.  Interestingly, the fact that so many white people don't is never discussed.  However, we are quick to highlight the poor, underprivileged, Black people who do not read. 

 

Neither of my grandfathers could read or write. My father did not go to college. I went to college and now I sell books :-) My trajectory is not unique. Many Black people are ahead of my curve and many perhaps more are behind. Given our experience in this country our reading rates are quite good, if not remarkable.  Do we need to do better -- of course we do and we will, but it will take time.

 

@Word Lovers I completely agree with your statement: "Not enough Black people read." But is also true not enough Americans read. Given the reading rates of Black women to who weren't given the right to vote until the 20th century, were subjected to the worse hundreds of years of slavery could dish out only to be followed by a century of Jim crow. the achievement of this group of people is absolutely remarkable. 

 

For these reasons and so much more I don't buy into the notion that "Black people Don't Read." Indeed, it is amazing we read as much as we do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I agree somewhat with the writer who said "most Black people don't read'.  I find that most people, in particular young people, only read a book when it's absolutely necessary (i.e. - if required by a teacher).  I, on the other hand, am a member of a Bookclub that will be celebrating it's 25th Anniversary next year in 2020.  We read all kinds of books by African-American authors and people of color, once a month.  We have turnover but remain consistent with about 20 members, and I would be remiss if I didn't note that we are supported by our local library.  This is where we meet and it is an open opportunity for anyone in the community, but the members tend to be older - a lot of retirees - and people who have worked as educators or in the social sciences, also for the most part black and female. 

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Hey @Char Backey would you mind if I added your book club's information to AALBC?  I have another club on the site that has been together over 25 years years and I have all of their books on the site. I compile Book club information and reading lists to help readers find good books.  Here is the Go On Girl! club reading list going back to 1991. They are also committed to buying their books from AALBC.  

 

I have collected information on over 700 Black book clubs and virtually all of them have female members.

 

Most Black people in Great Britain read books. Over 80% of Brits will read a book this year.

 

I gave a presentation in Austin this past Saturday, the Austin Black Book Festival. The founder is a sister. The volunteers were from a book club (all sistas), Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society Delta Sigma Theta and the Links organizations provided sponsorship and volunteers too. If it were not for the men who presented or sold books. Attendees would have been mostly female  

 

Maybe, most Black Men Don't Read.  

 

Everyone, we have an online book club here, and are trying to get more folks to participate.  The club has started in 1998 the next book we are reading is Sag Harbor.

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10 hours ago, Troy said:

I also know that you can't look at Black literacy with an American lense. A third of Americans will end the year without reading a single book -- most of these people will be white.  Interestingly, the fact that so many white people don't is never discussed.  However, we are quick to highlight the poor, underprivileged, Black people who do not read. 

 

I think I understand your line of thinking, so I'll reflect on your  post a little more.

 

Quickly, I want to point out that reading, as you inferred, was not always a black privilege, so it is of little concern to many that white people do not read. Our focus is on the black community and the way they approach and interact with literacy because we know that reading truly is fundamental. Whereas most white people don't read, most black people can't, at least not on their lexile level, so that's a big difference. 

 

 Also, I don't buy into the socioeconomic status problem because reading is free, education is free, libraries are free, etc. There's lots of opportunity but little desire, but I'm sure you and I can discuss this topic for hours as it seems we both have a lot to say about it.  

 

I'll see how I can post links to our reviews.  They're not PDF'd to the Word Lovers page, but see below in the interim. BTW,  I enjoyed this conversation. 

 

Word Lovers Book & Literary Club Book Reviews 

Book Review by Word Lovers Book & Literary Club
Title: Ingleside
Author: Laura Jackson
Review Date: January 5, 2019

True stories are rarely told in captivating ways, especially those about common crimes such as child abuse, child neglect and murder. However, Jackson’s relational way of sharing what Andre and Shelia Jones did to their children held our interest. To appreciate what Ingleside offers, we shifted our minds to learning and understanding because Jackson introduced us to the term “dickism” and acquainted us with the difference between lies and “damned lies,” and sociopath vs. psychopath. The way in which these terms were explained, within the constructs of power, poverty and social control, made it easier for all of us (those of us who are not research-oriented) to understand.
The story begins with a phone call and unfolds in a methodological way to illustrate how Jackson probes to understand the state of mind of Andre and Shelia Jones. The crime itself was not fascinating to us, so it was difficult for us to feel the “wow” factor about what the couple did. We craved more information about the interviews the author had with Andre and wished we could have read more of his own words instead of having the author analyze the few words cited. What follows are interviews with Andre, descriptions of what happened in court, how the author made sense of what the couple did and the author’s overall conclusion of whether or not Andre was guilty of intentionally committing his crime.

This is a likeable book for the right audience, which we believe are readers specifically interested in mental health, psychology and/or criminology. Because the book is based on a true story, it was hard to find it excitable but it can certainly serve as a reference marker for readers who want insight into the human psyche. The author does a good job of teaching readers about the depths of abuse, shame and deceit. While we liked this book, we believe only specific audiences will be able to fully appreciate it.

 

Book Review by Word Lovers Book & Literary Club
Title: Miss Titta
Author: Regena Hoye
Review Date: June 3, 2019

This funny mystery illustrates how close-knit communities respond to ways of life for African-Americans. We observed and really liked how the author plotted the story to keep readers’ interest. We appreciated Ms. Titta’s strong and nurturing character as the town’s matriarch. We found the set up Tillman scene particularly funny as he wondered around naked from waist down. Ellen and Minnie were cool characters, and we definitely related to them.

The book is extremely long and while we consider the writing of good quality, we believe the book would have been a better read if it were shorter. Some parts are fillers and do little to add interest to the book. In addition, we received a complementary jazz C.D., Summertime, to review along with the book.

The music, in particularly, walking and soft summer night, soothes and uplifts. We loved the C.D. and will promote both the book and CD to our constituents.

10 hours ago, Char Backey said:

I agree somewhat with the writer who said "most Black people don't read'.  I find that most people, in particular young people, only read a book when it's absolutely necessary (i.e. - if required by a teacher).  I, on the other hand, am a member of a Bookclub that will be celebrating it's 25th Anniversary next year in 2020.  We read all kinds of books by African-American authors and people of color, once a month.  We have turnover but remain consistent with about 20 members, and I would be remiss if I didn't note that we are supported by our local library.  This is where we meet and it is an open opportunity for anyone in the community, but the members tend to be older - a lot of retirees - and people who have worked as educators or in the social sciences, also for the most part black and female. 

 

Hi Char, 

 

What's the name of your book club? Also, do you guys share your reading list?

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23 hours ago, Troy said:

Neither of my grandfathers could read or write. My father did not go to college. I went to college and now I sell books :-) My trajectory is not unique. Many Black people are ahead of my curve and many perhaps more are behind. Given our experience in this country our reading rates are quite good, if not remarkable.  Do we need to do better -- of course we do and we will, but it will take time.

 

Kudos to you for giving providing us with a literary hub. Your site and business are unique and much needed. Also, I agree that we need to do better and that it will take time--and hard work. Our schools (in the South) don't  do a good job of promoting the arts, so our Club is working hard to reverse that trend.

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If you look at the Black owned publishing companies, many are companies formed by individuals for the purpose of publishing their own books.  If you click on any of the companies and see titles from only one author that is usually the case and would be the authors you are looking for.

 

You can also look at the authors listed under Author House, Createspace, or any of the other publishing companies catering to self-publishers on our list of over 2,100 publishing companies.

 

The books listed are in order of publication on all of these lists.  @Word Lovers, if you look through these lists I'm confident you find more self published authors than you'll know what to do with :-) You'll also be able to find what you need before I get around to creating that page.

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