By: Remi Keller
Racial Education, Activism, and Discussion (READ) held a webinar discussing and highlighting Black literature with guest speakers specializing in this field.
READ is an educational organization between Champaign-Urbana libraries dedicated to discussing racial issues and encouraging anti-racism education.
The guest speakers discussed a range of topics and themes pertaining to black literature and why the black literature genre is important to highlight.
The speakers discussed how they highlight black literature and why they have focused on black literature as an important part of their work.
Damien Duffy, an award-winning number 1 New York Times bestselling graphic novelist, said, “Our curatorial work has always been about highlighting underrepresented voices in comics and especially black independent comics.”
The depiction of black joy in literature is a form of resistance to the historical oppression of black people. Stacy Robinson, a graphic novelist of black literature, said black joy is “the escape of trauma via the trauma itself.”
It is impossible to understand the significance of black joy without also depicting the historical trauma in literature. The trauma and the joy are interconnected.
Stacy specializes in black utopian novels and explained how he views his exhibition works. “I don’t think about them necessarily as spaces where there is no conflict” he said, “ I think about a space where we can resolve conflict.”
Black literature can be found all over the world and differs due to geographical location and life experience but is still connected.
Jamila Gabriel, founder of call number, a book subscription box specializing in black authors, discussed why it is important to recognize and celebrate black literature.
She said, “because it’s not main-stream and so we’re wanting to shed light on these marginalized voices and stories and narratives that are not being told or not being heard.”
Jamila went on to say the publishing industry is mostly white and it can be difficult to find literature by black writers.
Jamila’s business is dedicated to helping black writers have a voice and giving them the exposure they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
“My overall goal is to just bring variety to what is being presented in the box.” Jamila said, “There’s an abundance of things being talked about, being written about and I’m just trying to give readers a sample of these different things.”