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Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Rebirth of "Blaxploitation"

There's an interesting new trend going on lately, and a positive one, I think. "Street Lit" is gaining in popularity among black readers. Wahida Clark, for example, is on the NYT best sellers list for what she calls "Thug Love" novels.

Apparently, she's moving into Wal-Mart territory. If you remember the 70s, or listened to rap in the mid to late 80s, you're no doubt familiar with Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines and writers of that ilk. But for a long time, people seemed more content to commit street crime that write about it. We have come full circle, now.

I think this is a positive trend for a number of reasons. For one thing, if it gets actual thugs reading, wow. That's a big deal.

For another, I've always gotten the impression that most black fiction is of the Bill Cosby variety. I read, say, "She's the One". You could change that entire novel from black people to white people with a simple search and replace, I think.

I've tried to write a few black characters, with varying results. Tessa Rack and Oracle Jones in my funny sci-fi "Perfect Me". It's a comedy, so I hope I can be forgiven the broad brush they're painted with. But Maxine Jackson of "Pageburner"? I'd like to think she's a pretty fleshed-out and realistic, erm, drug-dealing black cheerleader studying computer science...

Well, I'll keep trying.

Joey Pinkney has a nice interview with Wahida here: http://joeypinkney.com/urban-lit/interview-wahida-clark-author-of-payback-aint-enough.php

Also, there aren't many good rappers out there anymore. I hope more of them pack in and become writers, instead...