Why don’t black people read? It’s a question I often ask myself.
Before anyone comes at me with, “This is a stereotype. Black people do read.” Let’s cut the bullshit.
I’m a librarian by trade. I spent half of my twenties working in public libraries. I know for a fact that black people, as a collective, don’t read and the few who do only tend to read trash.
When I worked the reference desk in libraries the only questions I ever got asked by black people were as follows:
- How do I use the computer?
- Can you help me print this document?
- How do I use the copy machine?
- Can you help me format my resume?
- Do you have any triple crown books? (Triple Crown is an independent publisher of stereotypical hood books or urban fiction).
The only books I ever saw black people reading were of the urban lit variety and usually these books were being read by black women…not black men, who rarely ventured into the library at all.
The only time I was ever asked to locate something educational or resourceful was when a child was writing a report for school.
There are no words that can describe how much I HATED working in public libraries in black neighborhoods. Librarians in these neighborhoods are basically socially workers.
You have to deal with the mentally ill wandering into the library and disturbing the peace.
You have to deal with folks dropping their children off at the library and leaving them as if the library is a daycare service.
You have to deal with a group of dysfunctional, heavily unemployed, severely under-educated individuals bugging the hell out of you about helping them navigate technology.
You have to deal with crime, loitering, and people pissing on the side of the building (real talk, people in the hood don’t give a shit about their neighborhood public library).
And you have to do all of the above while being a fake ass customer friendly/happy underpaid educated public servant.
It is really no wonder why a disparity exist in the funding of libraries in the hood compared to more affluent parts of the city. Spending money on people who don’t read and don’t value a public library is a waste of time and taxpayer money. That money is better spent on people who actually appreciate the resources offered by public libraries.
I’m done asking myself why black people don’t read. It is a shameful question to even ponder considering our history in this country and how long we were barred from reading/educating ourselves. I find that even black people who graduated from college rarely open a book. It’s disheartening but I’m done caring.