A few years ago, I had a hankering to re-read Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man.” So, with my 9-year-old son, I drove over to one of the big chain bookstores and made a beeline for the literature section.
They seemed to be out of Baldwin.
An African-American sales associate brightly informed me that no, they had plenty of Baldwin. I had been looking in the wrong section, she said.
“No,” I argued. “I was looking in literature. James Baldwin. One of the greatest American writers. He would be in literature.”
No, she said, he was an African-American writer. He would be in the African-American section.
At which point my son, who happened to be studying Martin Luther King Jr. at the time, piped in: “Mom, why do they make the black writers stay in their own section?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “But it’s wrong. Separate but equal is not equal.”
Read it all here.