Why black people don’t read?
I have a theory about that – listen. And listen very carefully. My observations on this subject go way back to my childhood. I used to hear the Salvation Army band marching down the street . . . and I thought to myself – What a load of godawful noise. And on Sunday, Jess Yates was on the telly, introducing Songs of Praise . . . and I’m thinking that God is sitting up there with earplugs praying for that those people to stop singing – because he couldn’t take the noise.
The years rolled on and I got older. I had no interest in stories or books. All my leisure interests were centred around music. I assure you that it wasn’t a conscious thing. Nor was it a racist thing. But clearly the only music which I enjoyed was music of black origin. Then again, there’s nothing remarkable about that, a black man preferring black music, is there? And let’s face it, in recent years all popular music is music of black origin.
Why I decided to write a novel? That’s a very long story which, quite frankly, we don’t have time for, but I did, and then things began to fall into place.
On peer review sites my work was criticised for poor punctuation, particularly for overuse of commas. On the positive side, the better writers would comment on my rhythm and pacing. Then I realised that the commas were placed to control the speed and sound of the text. Does (narrative) text have sound?
Well, I suppose that would depend on your cultural roots. Storytelling was audio based until the quill took charge in the west. Perhaps other cultures, on reading text, will naturally covert it to audio as it is read. And to those cultures does a lack of rhythm lead to a lack of interest?
Although Human biology is not one of my better subjects, around about this time I developed my AVS theory. I understand communication protocols. I understand that the nature of storytelling is to transmit the contents of your imagination and transfer them to another. The information in your mind is encoded into to text. The area requiring research is where the text is decoded by the recipient. The human brain was not designed to accept text as a form of input. ‘Text’ is not one of the senses. For us to experience something text must converted to one or more of the senses in order that we comprehend it. The question is; do we all have the same favoured or default protocol for handling complex data streams?
Simple data is ‘simple’.
ELEPHANT - produces a visual image of an elephant.
Let’s make it more complicated, and bear in mind that the brain stores and retrieves data by a system of familiarity.
THE ELEPHANTS WALKED IN TWO BY TWO – Do you see elephants walking two by two. Or do you hear the line from the rhyme? I suggest that a culture based on audio culture will try to associate the text with audio, first.
This is not an essay, therefore I will not quote sources but there is evidence all around. According to Wiki there are 36 Black British writers. You will find most of those are poets – there’s that rhythm factor again. Black people make millions worldwide from songwriting and the like. By comparison, in literature, black people perform poorly. Seemingly they cannot produce quality literature. However, the ‘quality’ that is produced they do not seem to want to consume. If you accept that black people don’t appear to overly appreciate Bruce Springstein or Bon Jovi, then perhaps you are on the right track.
Are cultures reading ‘Call me Ishmael’ and thinking . . What is all that noise?
In other walks of life cultures blend and the popular consensus wins. During the 1970s Indians and Pakistanis emigrated to the UK en masse. They found the found the food bland and tasteless. It didn’t take long before Fish and Chips was exiled and Curry became the order of the day. Not only for the Asians but the natives also preferred it.
Asian food, Black Music, both were presented to the public and became the best flavour and the sound of now. With the advent of easy self-publishing will a new style come to the fore?
Am I saying that writing in a style led by rhythm and voice will lead to massive sales of books to black people?
There is a lot work to be, or undone, depending on your POV. First you must undermine many years of thinking, there is nothing inside a book for them.
The younger generation are more receptive to global culture. And in recent years they have been berated for having little or no interest in literature. Perhaps they simply are inspired by a different beat.