Ever since George Floyd was killed by the police in Minneapolis I haven't been able to stop thinking about his death ("I can't breathe") and how many similar deaths there have been year in and year out for so many years. It's no wonder most of the cities in the U.S. are on fire right now. It's been profoundly frightening hearing Trump threaten to mobilize the military against demonstrators, and watching police battling demonstrators with rubber bullets and tear gas on the news on TV. Yesterday we got emergency notifications on our cell phones and land line about a new curfew in Alameda County: no one can go out after 8pm now. Last night I couldn't sleep.
Today faculty pulled together to write a letter to students of color on our campus. I've been thinking about how much I learned from our students. Cal State East Bay has been named one of the three most diverse campuses in the country. I know I shifted my scholarly area to ethnic American literature because I had so many students of color in Fresno and in Hayward. (And I shifted from scholarship to creative writing because of my students' personal essays in Advanced Expository Writing.) Today I decided to put together a list of Black writers I taught regularly in my classes. Not all the Black writers I have read by a long shot, not all of the writers of color I've read or teach, but specifically the Black writers. Most of these I taught over and over for thirty years. Since I used anthologies in my literary surveys, I taught a lot of other individual poems and essays.
Claudia Rankine, Citizen
Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped
John Edgar Wideman, Brothers and Keepers
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
August Wilson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Toni Morrison, Sula, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon
Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy, A Small Place
Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
James Baldwin, Going to Meet the Man, Notes of a Native Son
Gwendolyn Brooks, poems
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters
Richard Wright, stories
Langston Hughes, poems
Charles Chesnutt, stories
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
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