Before Beyoncé sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk (We Should All be Feminists) in her song “Flawless”, I was her fan. I remember watching the 2009 TED Talk “The Danger of A Single Story” feeling inspired as a writer, as a woman, and as a black woman writing stories. Chimamanda is known for her feministic views and her openness about the male dominant culture she grew up witnessing in Nigeria.
In a world where women writers and writers of color are still marginalized, it’s important for me to read as many female writers and writers of color as possible. I selected this book because I realized the last FEW book recommendation I got were older white males. Now, let me say this before it becomes an issue, I do not have a problem with white males, white male writers, or older white male writers. What I do have a problem with is the underexposure women writers receive in literary journals, magazines, and among publishing companies.
When I skim through the tweets or website of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts I’m shocked at how few women are published by popular magazines and literary journals per year. In fact, I’m more than shocked, I’m disgusted. It’s 2014 and we’re still fighting against sexism. Thankfully, organizations like VIDA are taking a stand to speak out on this issue of creative and social injustice. But, I can’t leave all the work to VIDA. I decided to take my own stand.
Why might you ask? It’s simple. We have to pay attention to the culture we live in every day, the culture we will be defined by 200 years from now. I’ve thought of ways to speak on this issue in a meaningful way not only because it directly effects my life but, because it’s the right thing to do. When I look at the little girls in church who look up to me and mimic what I do, when I think of the teen girls I’ve mentored, when I consider my female peers, I feel the weight of responsibility and though it’s heavy, I welcome it.
I want to be able to say to my daughter I challenged to myself even when the society I lived in didn’t challenge itself. To do this, I’m going to read and blog about women writers for the rest of the year. All of the book selections I choose will be written by females. (Sorry to the men on the New York Times Bestseller list but, you won’t find a home here.) The point of this is to challenge my audience, family, and friends to look for quality writing in between the covers of books they normally wouldn’t. I have a voice and I have influence. It may not be the loudest voice or the largest source of influence, but it’s something. I hope when people see the amazing books and chapbooks written by women (and women of color) they’ll think twice about the conventional publishing trends that are old, bias, and close-minded.
If you want to join me in reading “Americanah”, please do it! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book. I literally am starting it after I post this. What better person to start this book challenge off with than the self proclaimed feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?