We were reading bell hooks’ memoir Bone Black. One student, an eighteen-year-old woman from a small town, did not like the book. It made her uncomfortable. The ideas and the style were very different from the books she had read in high school, the books she had been taught were the standard for what good literature was.
"I don't think it's written very well," she said. "The only reason she ever got published is because she was poor and black."
Ah, yes. She’s got a good grasp on the publishing industry. It's just so much easier to get a book published if you are poor and black.
I grew up in a conservative small town, and I know where this attitude comes from. A young person will toss a statement into a conversation without even thinking: "It's hard for a white man to get a job nowadays because of affirmative action." Someone else will nod in agreement. "When there is a job opening, it is sure to go to a black person."
"This happened where you live? All the jobs went to black people?"
"Well, all the good jobs."
"Where do you live?"
"Small Town in Middle of Nowhere."
"How many African-American kids were in your graduating class?"
"Um .... none."
"Are there any African-American families in your community?"
"Uh .... no."
"If there are no African-American people in your community, how is it possible that they are taking all the jobs?"