I accept the term ‘black writer’, but racism is rarely at the center of my work.

“Most British black novelists and poets do not write directly about racism; they are channeling their creativity into everything else that we, the people of the human race, experience, ‘writes Bernardine Evaristo in’ Manifesto ‘

When his seventh novel, Girl, Woman, Other, won the Booker Prize in 2019, Bernardine Evaristo saw it as a belated recognition that she is a British author as well as a black British writer. Evaristo, 62, the daughter of an English mother and a Nigerian father, decided to use her new prominence to encourage other black writers with Manifesto: Never give up (Grove, Jan 11), a seductive and energizing turn-based memoir. She writes about the personal and social progress of the days when her classmates refused to accept her as British and the barriers that still remain for writers of color.. —Brian Bethune

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As a writer, my project has been to explore the African diaspora – past, present, real, imagined – from multiple perspectives. I accept the term “black writer” because in a racialized society, I think it is important to focus on these narratives. Yet I have been asked, in all seriousness, when am I going to progress beyond writing about blacks, as if it were a stage one goes through on the way to the next level of human enlightenment.

Absurdly, for some, only white narratives are considered capable of exploring universality in fiction. It is perhaps one of the unrecognized reasons why it has been so difficult for black writers to get published in the UK. I have had several exciting conversations in this regard with people who, in essence, see blackness as inferior to the supposed universality of whiteness. and who look up to writers of color who create white-led narratives, and who are then seen as elevated from the rest of us that “we can’t go beyond our race.”

There is also an enduring assumption that when writers of color in majority white countries create narratives centered on the lives of blacks or brunettes, they are perceived to be writing about racism. Most British black novelists and poets do not write directly about racism; they are channeling their creativity into everything else that we people of the human race experience. In my own work, racism is sometimes a common thread in the lives of the characters, because it is true to life. But it is rarely at the heart of my work.

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This article appears in print in the January 2022 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline “Writing about the human race.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.



Reference-www.macleans.ca

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