My Introduction to James Baldwin

black-history_feb-9_copyright-shila-iris-2017As a child, when tough times fell on my family, I became an avid reader. At the age of 8, I was visiting the library, checking out the thickest and heaviest novels I could carry. I would read just about anything, as long as it kept me occupied. Browsing the shelves of the African-American Literature section, I often saw James Baldwin’s name, but for some reason, I avoided his books. I did this for a long time, and didn’t take an interest in his writing until I was in my 30s. I kept hearing his name in the art community, both locally and nationally- it turned out, he inspired many people.

One day, I was visiting my oldest sister and she had a copy of one of his books in her purse. I inquired and she said that he is her favorite writer. I said, well that’s enough. I am going to have to read one of the three Baldwin books I have at home! Yes, I had gone as far as purchasing his books, but still never read them. Giovanni’s Room was my choice. I was pleased. I will read many others. The way he brings the Black experience to life, and the way he isn’t afraid to discuss what conformists think are the “darkest” parts of our existence, is what makes his writing so attractive. He is the voice inside of our heads.
And, that’s all I have to say!

Thank you for coming here,

Shila Iris

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