According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, African American literature is defined as a “body of literature written by Americans of African descent.”
Before, taking any classes in college I did not know that literature could be driven by any culture. Literature is a form of communication and a way of conveying knowledge and it is what has controlled humanity’s mindset for decades and still does. When children begin their schooling they are taught the alphabet, phonetics, words, and they learn how to read sentences and eventually they’re timed by how fast they can read and interpret their reading. Eventually it becomes a habit of simply taking in what is on the page and configuring puzzled and metaphoric quotes and vocabulary words.
African American literature is also taught to children but in a a different way. Once the minds of children have been stimulated enough so that they can comprehend complex stories and important factors such as geographic locations, cultures, the existence of various languages and the importance of all of those components, teachers have the opportunity to teach history. The most important historical concepts that are taught in educational institutions in the United States are from the origins of North America and how we got to where we are today. The importance of teaching children those concepts are so that they can understand that everything that has been done to level up to where we are now, should not be taken for granted.
African American literature is a form of reading a history textbook. When you open a book written by an Afro-writer, especially written before the 1980s like the “Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison or “Not with Laughter” by Langston Hughes, you are not reading your average book, you are reading a piece of perspective. When I read the “Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, my eyes glistened and I was shocked by how much I learned about the culture and the amount of respect African Americans had received before the 1960s. I was able to find that African American individuals were still treated unfairly after Jim Crow laws were passed and the way that I learned that was through vivid details that seem like exaggerations but were 100% true. Although the story was not exactly true, it exemplified the actual mannerisms and events that would happen during those times.
Literature is written to provoke others to learn more and to respect what they are reading. African American literature should be respected by not only Americans but by other people who come from countries that have also been affected by the historical events that provoked Africans to write their stories and share them.
The article, “Who reads an American book”, Smith questions, “In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?” Although these questions are asked to prove a point. I find that Afro-literature in general is so important to read that everyone should be educated about not only African American literature but, Afro-latino literature, and direct African literature. Most of the time in schools we are taught to focus on the American perspective but if you are able to read what happened during the early 1800s for example in Virginia, Colombia and Senegal you can then gain access to the a broad perspective of what was happening globally rather than just knowing one perspective.
Literature allows everyone to express their thoughts and share information. At times, literature can also be a shout of help for others. For Afro- writers, literature can be both.