Growing up, I read like crazy. My book lust was so overwhelming that I actually wanted to be the protagonists. And since I never saw myself reflected in these heroines, I’d picture myself as the black version of my favorite characters. In my head, I was a black Ramona in Beverly Cleary’s classic children’s books (with a cuter hairdo). I was a sexy, ruthless Lucky Santangelo (yes, I hid Jackie Collins novels under my mattress). I was a black Scarlett O’Hara, breaking Civil War–era hearts in Gone With the Wind (several layers of problematic, but I was 11!). It was weird. I was surrounded by fascinating black girls in real life. But reading most of American fiction, you’d think we were invisible.
Why Aren’t There More Black Women in Fiction?
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