When the Black Voices Matter and other related hashtags began to show up on social media, I was simultaneously excited and concerned. I did want to see our voices be heard as Black creatives, however, I also don’t like how we have to be singled out by announcing that we are Black. I come from one of the last generations of readers who purchased books written by African- American authors from a small bookshelf buried in the back of stores and libraries. For some people, this was a win. In my opinion, this segregated Black voices–unintentionally or not–in a way that kept our stories from reaching mass audiences.
One of the great things about the publishing market today, is that consumers don’t typically wait until they go to a bookstore or library to browse before they decide on books to buy and/or borrow. Usually, in the era of social media book influencers, consumers get their book recommendations from online platforms such as: Goodreads, Amazon and social media. This allows Black voices to reach a wider readership before consumers make it to the bookstore. Pre-social media, Black authors were confined to a predominately Black audience, making any opportunities for them to be household names unlikely.
The interest in Black voices in literature today can be a movement that leads to permanent change if Black authors sustain momentum.