Using some Ebonics dialect, also known as African American Vernacular English, black authors colorfully paint the stories of their ancestors in “Black American Short Stories.” Throughout the years, African Americans have helped shape the United States, simply from black history alone, in the form of African culture. The slave trade generated millions, and the civil rights movements shaped the African American experience through religious practices, familial and community systems, politics, and economic behaviors.
Visualizing America through the eyes of black people is vital to understanding the oppression that African Americans encountered. African Americans weren’t allowed to use the same restrooms, water fountains, or even dine in the same restaurants as white people. Their restrooms were not cleaned, and they were treated poorly. African Americans were treated like animals, they were water hosed, and attacked by dogs throughout history. For years slave masters have abused, raped, and lied to black women while under their ownership. Many years ago black people were stolen from their villages in Africa, and shipped to the America. Many of them died on the ships, from diseases, lack of air, and from hunger. Blacks were looked down upon, and solicited to work on fields for little to no pay. For many hours they picked cotton and were beaten if they did not meet the quota for that day. Black American Short Stories tells stories of lynchings, discrimination, murder, to everyday occurrences such as motherhood and marriage. This book will take you on a bumpy ride throughout time in the lives of black people. The brutal truth of African American history resides in every word of this book.
This book features many successful writers, who were very hands on in making a change in America. To name a few, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, W.E.B Du Bois, Rudolph Fisher, and Zora Neale were active in their communities, as well as in literary movements. Their successful works are still read, and remain talked about decades later. Well known African American writer, Maya Angelou, who wrote, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Gather together In My Name, The Heart Of A Woman,” was also a poet and a civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, movies, plays, and television shows in the course of fifty years. Alice Walker, an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and also an activist is most known for writing, The Color Purple. For this astonishing work, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, and writer. He was also a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. W.E.B Du Bois was an American sociologist; historian, civil rights activist, author, and editor. He became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree at The University of Berlin and Harvard. Rudolph Fisher was a radiologist; physician, musician, and writer. Fisher also participated in the Harlem Renaissance as a novelist and musician. Zora Neale Hurston studied anthropology while writing short stories during the Harlem Renaissance. These people were leaders, activists, abolitionists, doctors etc. they were also great writers. This group of writers have shown great bravery writing some of the controversial works that they have in segregated times.
There has been much controversy over the recognition of black authors. Most black writers went unrecognized for a long period of time. There was difficulty finding publishers, unless you were a popular writer. This was not fair for other talented writers who needed their voices to be heard. Maybe distributers did not want a truck load of African American stories floating around the United States. This was a way of keeping quiet about the harsh truth of the way many black human beings were treated. If people are kept in the dark about these situations, they have no idea how to fix them, or where to start.
The Harlem Renaissance influenced many writers to learn about society, and respond to issues in the black community. It was an artistic movement that took place in the 1930’s. The Harlem Renaissance featured black writers, musicians, poets, scholars, and photographers. Many black people left the south to come up North to experience a form of racial pride. As seen in, “The City of Refuge,” by Rudolph Fisher, featured in Black American Short Stories, many people were lured in by drugs, during this time. The Harlem Renaissance was a great opportunity for African Americans to branch out and have their voices heard.
The book, “Black American Short Stories” used to be titled, “American Negro Short Stories”. The current title is a better one only because the word Negro has such an offensive name in history. Years ago, everything was separated and labeled, “Negro and White.” The term black is the opposite of white, we are a common people. The words are just easier to relate, even though I do consider most African Americans to have brown skin, black skin, and some are even yellow, and look white. I believe the title, “African American Short Stories” would be more appropriate.