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Thank you so much for posting this. I am putting together a college planning guide for my teenage nieces & nephews & was looking for a similar book list. I’m glad I found your question on Carleen Brice’s “White Readers Meet Black Authors” [welcomewhitefolks.blogspot.com]. However, I am a fiercely proud African-American man. Much like your 14 year-old young man will, I am sure, I survived my discouraging life in poverty, public housing with an alcoholic mother & without my absent father. I struggled with issues of self-hate, identity, resentment & sometimes poor relationship skills. I found my escape in school, sports, summer/part-time jobs [thank God!] & the tons of books my mother read–mostly Black Women’s lit. I like to say that I was partially raised by some of the most amazing Black women on earth: Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Zora Neal Hurston, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Dorothy Parker, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker & others. In turn they made or helped me love story telling, appreciate young love, LAUGH!!! – ZNH, reflect on history/identity, appreciate family, fall in love with good storytelling, discover poetry, peer into the complexity & beauty of Black women’s lives, & recognize the power of words, ideas & fantasy. But none of them [that I recall] wrote about adolescent Black boys. For me they were simply — like so many have been — the right Black women answering the call for the right time. But I also want to be sure that my nephews get exposed to some books/poetry that are also directly reflective of their experiences. They are all incredibly bright, decent, morally centered young men who unfortunately lack the strong, visionary parenting [like I did] that most likely guarantees that their intelligence & ability will translate into achievement. Thankfully they have a recovering grandmother, an aunt who became a teacher, me, our prayers & whatever God’s answers to them will be. Please know that your blog has helped my family in that effort.
Thank you again & may God richly bless you,
dmcstrickland [at] cjyi [dot] org