I have encountered the question from multiple cultures wondering if the bulk of African American stories, or literature, is based on black history, or the experiences of black Americans?
Many times, African American writers draw from what they know, or in other words, the truth as they see it, and develop either a fiction or non-fiction story from it. There are however, writers such as Tyra Banks for instance, who has drawn from her background in career modeling to making a totally fantasy in her new book Modelland which has nothing to do with black history.
In the past, readers of African American literature could expect to experience much of black history in books and movies, however, now that we are moving forward being less stagnated by binding laws of the past, writing for the African American is and will continue to take the form of embracing their own lives while blending it into more avenues besides characteristics of their own past.
Not all books written by the African American are based off of black history, but much of the African American stories do capture the richness of the culture unlike any other writer of any race can imagine. The thing about it is, most of the “black” stories haven’t been told, ranging from the wealthy black stories, happy black stories, successful, creative, children’s and even more of the well known heartbreaking black stories. For just as many types of black people, there are just as many stories.
When reading anything written by a person of color, it is important to remember that if it is fiction, it really is fiction. If it is non-fiction, then that is what it is. Too many times, people want to label African Americans based on art even if the art doesn’t represent real life for the majority.
My first two novels, Secret and Colored Lily- Poppa Took My Innocence, have taken some of the vernacular of my own grandmother and incorporated it into the story because this is what I know, yet the story of Secret in itself is totally fiction, though highly possible in any person’s walk of life – Caucasian, African American or any other.