In honor of Juneteenth (the holiday developed to remember the day that President Lincoln released slaves from a life of forced assimilation into a world where they now had the choice to conform to expectations…or die) I went to my local Borders Books to do some research on “my people.” I thought for a moment that I may have been too zealous in my journey toward Oreodom and that learning about myself would guide me toward a more moderate path.
But a quick trip in the “ethnic” section of the book store told me I was right on track.
In the 20000 square foot big box Borders, about 10 square feet were dedicated to the ethnic section. Out of the tens of thousands of books available elsewhere in the store, maybe 50 titles were in this section. I was relieved to see that CEOs smarter than I dedicate the same amount of space to ethnic identity.
Part of me hoped that I would find on these two shelves, a tome or two that spoke to me. That I would learn something about “my people’s” history that would make me feel like I was indeed a part of this population.
Granted, that kind of self-discovery is challenging, so thankfully here’s what I found instead.
Specific Self Help
Most of the books were fiction and the non fiction discussed either slavery or self help. But the self help was limited to telling one how to seize the day or how to say “aw hell naw” at all the right times.
In terms of self improvement, I am more interested in calorie intake, balancing work and pleasure and laying down the rest of this Stepford-filled baggage.
But since those books don’t seem to belong in this section, I suppose, neither do I.
African American History X…if X > Pump up the Jam
There was nothing in the ethnic section that was published before about 1990. No classic novels or writers here. All post parachute pants prints.
And since I existed before 1990, it seems this is not the section for me.
I Put My Trash in the Bin, Not in the Bedroom
The romance novels here were all trashy and Harlequin-esque. No sweeping tales of love. No sexy, taught dramas. No achingly coquettish stories that made you tense with wonderful anticpation to read them. Just books with pictures of big curves on the cover, giant print inside and the overuse of the words “chocolate,” and “member” in the same sentence.
And since I never compare any part of my partners to food, I guess this isn’t the section for me.
Black People Don’t Like…Things, Apparently.
The area also left out other key sections that sell quite well in the greater Borders book store. There was no “humor” section. No “food” section. No “travel” section. No “science fiction” section.
And since I like to laugh, eat, go places and because I intend on existing in the future, I realized once again: this is clearly not the section for me.
I breathed a sigh of relief as I affirmed once again that I was doing things right by pursuing the Oreo way of life. I smiled as I thought this…just as a sales clerk approached.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” she asked.
“Yes. I did.” I said, with probably too grand a pause between words.
“Good. We just got in some new books for Juneteenth.”
“June-what?” I asked and laughed as I brushed past her, before adding. “Can you tell me where to find the latest issue of The Baltimore Review. I’m going to start it just after The Thought Gang and just before Gun With Occasional Music.”