Dear Black Male Authors,
I wanted to dedicate this Black History Month blog post to you. This is for all the authors, in my lifetime, that have changed how I view literature. For years, you have been pushing boundaries and making yourselves known in spaces that insist on excluding you. But you still push through. You continue to challenge expectations and pop the bubbles society has placed around you. I ask that you continue to make yourself visible. And I humbly ask, please don’t stop writing books. Our young black boys need to see themselves not only in the books they’re reading but in the person behind the pen.
To Derrick Barnes, you composed a lyrical story of a child’s experience in a barbershop. Around the time of it’s publication, I was a new teacher. It was an honor to bring your work in my classroom. My students felt seen.
To Matthew A. Cherry, understand this, you will continue to inspire generations of young girls to love their hair despite society’s Eurocentric norms convincing them to do otherwise.
To Jason Reynolds, my newest favorite author. I can and will read whatever you write. Long Way Down was powerful beyond measure. I look forward to reading more of your work. And just so we're clear, Miles Morales IS my Spider-Man.
To Ibram X. Kendi, together with Jason Reynolds, you found a way to bring the conversation about racism to a younger generation. The future thanks you.
To Kwame Alexander, your lyricism is unparalleled. Black boys can be poets too.
To Trevor Noah, your social commentary on the black experience in two different countries, opened my eyes. I see differently.
To Walter Dean Myers, you were one of the OG’s, your works will live on forever.
To Eric Jerome Dickey, you showcased black love and romance, it humanized us. May you rest peacefully.
To my dearest black men, to my authors: know that you are loved, you are respected, you are valued, you are supported, and you are necessary.
Ericka, the aunt to a black boy, who thanks to you, did not have to grow up wishing to see himself in the books he read.
Ericka's Note: My intention with this blog is to showcase these authors because their work have impacted my life in a variety of ways. My Black female authors will get their shine, it will be even brighter (no offense to my gents). If you're reading this blog post, I implore you to considering supporting these authors and those like them. Support them as they continue to push boundaries. Help them become household names.