Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Reading Fundamental?

Is reading fundamental or does it depend on what you read? Some read for pure entertainment and others read to learn something or feel something that they didn’t feel before picking up the book. Some people need to walk away from a book enriched in some way and some just need to walk away.

I was a Junior in college when I read Sister Souljah’s “The Coldest Winter Ever” and it was awesome. I couldn’t put it down. It was so well written (from what I remember) that I was literally having dreams about the characters when I went to sleep at night. (Same thing happened when I read the autobiography of Malcolm X the same summer.. it could have been the Malaria prevention meds causing all the vivid dreams while I was in Thailand) But little did I know things would quickly get out of hand. Once people realized one could write about the hood and make money off of it, it took away the idea that writing required actual skill, knowledge, insight or education. It can’t be avoided I guess. Isn’t making money with little effort or skill the American Dream? Without anyone’s permission (certainly not mine) street lit was born. No spell check required. I am not mad at Sister Souljah. How was she to know? The same thing happened with rap music. How was Run DMC and Slick Rick supposed to know that they would play a part in influencing the likes of Soldier Boy and a million others with or without record deals today that speak really really loud but don’t say much of anything. The result? More people trying to use growing up in the hood as their degree or their skill to make money off of. And how long before they realize it isn’t enough?
And if you don’t want to write about the hood per se you can write about hood mentality. The over sexed black pimps and players and the gold-digging, just happy to have a man females that bump and grind each other into coonstown… Where they should die.. but they don’t.. they live for the sequel. But it’s only entertainment… Right? Would we be angry if a white person was writing street lit? (they probably already do. I mean they give us BET).

Just in case I was wrong about this I read a Zane “erotica noir” (ain’t that some bullsh*t) book a few months ago. I won’t get into the details of the book. I will just say I wasn’t wrong. But people love it. So I guess I can’t say it’s all bad. Entertainment is good. But it’s for those who know that is exactly what it is. It is not good for those who think they should model themselves after ignorant behavior and even more damaging for those who begin to think you should be able to succeed without really trying and there is a lot of that going around.

1 comment:

  1. That's the reason I feel I won't be successful as a Black writer...I don't specialize in street lit...which seems an oxymoronic term, don't you think?