Can you name one fantasy book written by a black author?
Don’t feel bad if the answer is no because I (a black aspiring fantasy author) can’t name a single one. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I can’t name a black author who has written something that was outside the realm of African American fiction or nonfiction. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who is like this, regardless of their race.
As an aspiring author and a black person, the question is always lurking in the back of my mind: Do I have to write about African American subjects to be a notable author?
Think about some of the great black writers. Maya Angelou wrote about black issues. Toni Morrison wrote about black issues. Ralph Ellison wrote about black issues. They wrote about other topics, but they are known for what they wrote about black culture.
I’m certainly not condemning them for writing what they did because the world needed to be exposed to the subjects they wrote about. However, I don’t just want to write about black culture! I have definitely written short stories about being black, and I do plan on getting them published some day. But my favorite genre to write about is the fantasy genre.
As crazy as it seems in the 21st century, if I or some other black author writes a great fantasy book that people love, we won’t be just another talented writer. We’ll be that black fantasy writer. We won’t be known for how good our book is as much as we’ll be known for how we broke racial barriers in fiction writing.
Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be just an author. There will always be “black” attached to anything I write.