In answering the question as to whether or not "specialty" literature such as LGBTQIA or African-American should be placed in specifically labeled locations within the greater collection, I wanted to be sure to examine my privilege as a heterosexual white American woman.
My first instinct was to say, no these titles should not be separated from the entirety of a library's collection. I know, however, that through the lens of privilege it is easy to say we are, for example "color-blind" or to use another example, "we do not see disability". It is easy to find essay upon essay describing why these viewpoints are problematic. So, by not wanting to pull these titles out of the whole into subgenres, am I in essence saying those same things?
On one hand, it seems that it makes more literary sense to put African-American literature with the genre of the stories involved (romance, science fiction, etc) and perhaps the same for LGBTQIA. Is that the best way to serve our patrons though? I'm not sure.
In arguing for inclusion in schools for the disabled, the point is often made that the non-disabled students have much to gain from exposure to their disabled peers. The relationship is mutually beneficial. Can including African-American, LGBTQIA, and titles from other marginalized groups nonchalantly within the whole collection do the same? Is it ok to have the ideal of increasing empathy in readers by exposing them to historically oppressed communities via their fiction choices, or is that too didactic? My personal preference would be to include "specialty" fiction within the whole collection except for featured times such as Black History Month or Gay Pride week.
I also see the point, however, that if an African-American reader, for instance, wants to easily find titles that represent his or her life experience as a Black American, those titles should be able to be easily and quickly accessed. Having them separate makes titles that much easier to find.
I haven't yet been employed as a librarian, so I'm eager to hear the thoughts of you who have!
by Octavia Butler
originally published in 1979
Paperback: 264 pages
Dana, an African-American woman living in 1976 Los Angeles, finds herself mysteriously transported to the antebellum South. She and her husband must learn to navigate the strange world of the past and determine how it will shape their lives and future.
Characteristics consistent with African-American fiction (with help from the New World Encyclopedia)
- African-American author
- Protagonist is African-American and the plot largely revolves around the African-American experience
- Themes often include racism, religion, freedom, what it means to be Black and what it means to be American.
- Consistent with a rich tradition of slave narratives
- Seems to exist both within the larger context of American culture and also outside of it
- Can extend to many sub-genres such as African-American Fantasy, African-American Science Fiction, African-American Romance, African-American Horror, African-American poetry, etc.
incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Dessa Rose by Sherley Anne Williams
Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora by various authors
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson