African-American man holding books
Black books: They are not just for black people anymore. © Jason Stitt -

From Black history is not just for Black people. Just as the world is not painted in “50 Shades of Grey,” and America is a melting pot of flavors, those aspiring to be well-cultured should put on their technicolor glasses, step outside their comfort box and expose themselves to something they may not already know.

That’s why my first reaction to the HuffPost article titled, “50 Books That Every African American Should Read,” was one of a doubt and frustration. The article, ironically posted on Independence Day, is a rather extensive book list with well-known and some not-so-known titles by Black authors from America and abroad. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science-fiction and autobiography. Among the authors: Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Assata Shakur, Edwidge Dandicat, Barack Obama. The list was impressive. The question mark, for me, punctuated a long-standing idea that only African-Americans should be educated on African-American things.

Two hundred and thirty six years removed from the United States independence from Great Britain, the country reflects on its history, one built on the backs of slaves and sewn together with contributions from every race. And still, this title.

I was baffled as a 16-year-old kid in high school sitting with my guidance counselor, choosing electives for the following year. I had a myriad of choices. Music, cooking, computer economics, psychology 101, the Black Experience… The Black Experience??? My counselor, Mrs. Sexton, told me it was a Black history class that covered the Middle Passage, slavery, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement.

“But isn’t this a part of the required subject of American History for all students, Mrs. Sexton?”

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