The way that some bookstores carve out "special" sections for black authors has always irritated me because it seems so condescending both to the authors and to black readers. Whether the bookstore manager realizes it or not, a subtle message is being sent that only black readers will be interested in these books and that black readers really aren't interested in reading anything but books written by black authors. I wondered how the authors themselves felt about being partitioned into their own little ghetto. Thomas Sowell, "A Man of Letters" author, addresses the practice today in his Townhall.com column.
If Rachael Ray had been black, there are bookstores where her cookbook would not be displayed in the same section with all the other cookbooks. It would be displayed off in a special section for black authors.
This means that many people who were looking for cookbooks would not even see Rachael Ray's cookbook, much less buy it.
This is not rocket science but it seems to have escaped the notice of those publishers who supply racial information on their authors, thereby jeopardizing sales of their own books.
This is only one of many examples of how much this generation -- especially the "educated" part of it -- has let symbolism over-ride substance. With just a moment's thought, anyone whose IQ is not in single digits would see the absurdity of the idea of losing book sales for the sake of symbolism. But the real problem is that so many people today don't stop and think when they are being swept along by some fashionable notion. The notion of honoring black ("African American") writers with a special section in bookstores is just one of innumerable fashionable symbolic notions that ignore consequences.I have to believe that Sowell is entirely correct to say books that are segregated this way sell fewer copies than they would have sold if they had been simply shelved with all the other books of their type. I've walked past sections filled exclusively with the work of black authors numerous times because I made the simple, and wrong, assumption that the books were grouped that way because they were of interest only to black readers. That's the message I received from the bookstore.
I wonder if this is a practice only in United States bookstores. I don't recall ever noticing anything like this in the dozens of U.K. bookstores that I spent countless hours in and I've been in too few Canadian bookstores to know if they follow the policy. I have long found "political correctness" to be one of the great irritants in my life because of the harm it causes to the very groups being "protected" by the silliness, so it's good to see one of its victims speak up like this.