Southern writers essayists are often left off the lists of “best” and “outstanding.” Journals such as Callaloo, Southern Exposure, The Georgia Review, and publishers including Algonquin Press have created a rise in important Southern non-fiction that matches the earlier fiction of Julia Peterkin, Eudora Welty, Ernest Gaines, Richard Wright, and the Nobel laureate, William Faulkner.
Mississippi’s Anne Moody, South Carolina’s Herb Frazier, and many others are overlooked and underexposed. A host of writers from the west and mid west are also missed.
While I do appreciate David Brooks list, I see the dangers of a subtle censorship, certainly unintended and not deliberate, but one that perpetuates a division and continues to embed the idea of what constitutes the “best” and “outstanding” and where it can be found.
An extreme parallel is found in the consolidation of the music industry, which destroyed the internal culture of black music by over-exposing hip-hop.
Henry Laurens, colonial America’s richest merchant-planter, 3rd Continental Congress President, Peace Commissioner of the American Revolution, in a letter to future President John Adams, quoted his slave gardener. I always marvel at the sharing, because of who was at the center of the sharing. My standard for free speech includes the opportunity for the voice of the slave heard in a letter between two chief executives. There are many among us who can tell the story. There are many among us who deserve to be heard.