Working in a small, not very diverse branch, I don't get many RA questions about street lit. It's been a lot of fun exploring a genre I was unfamiliar with and discovering the subtleties and themes that run through it. The frames of street lit include overcoming poverty, crime, outrageous acts of violence, the importance of money, life being cheap, women are often sexually abused. Story lines include betrayal and revenge, rags to riches tales, hip hop, overblown crime and violence. There are also street lit books that include a strong connection to Christianity and redemption through religion. A lot of these books are popular with young adults. Part of the reason for this is that black characters do not feature strongly in many YA titles.
Some of the seminal works of street lit include Iceberg Slim's Pimp: The Story of my Life from 1967, and Donald Goines Whoreson. More modern street lit authors often publish their titles independently - author Vicki Stringer started the publisher Triple Crown for these titles. More modern titles that are highly influential include the work of Sister Souljah and Stringer. Street lit is also really taking off in ebook form right now.
People who read street lit are often interested in specific sub-genres. Getting to know these titles and authors will prove to be invaluable in connecting with the patrons. Fans of street lit love talking about their favorite authors and do not expect librarians to have knowledge of the genre. When you show even the smallest bit of knowledge they are surprised and thrilled, and you increase the likelihood of their being library advocates. Even if the books are not to your taste, with the violence and sexual abuse, remember that people often like to read exaggerated tales that match their own lives or fears for their own lives, and that identifying with a similar character and seeing how they deal with difficult situations is an extremely valuable tool and part of the reason why fiction is so important.
Please review the sources provided in your syllabus. The readings are light this week; please take this opportunity to work on your final projects! There isn't as much on the African American genre (not as much as Urban Fiction or Street Lit anyways) so here are two websites that can help you out:
Let me know of any problems, issues, or questions.
Due by the end of the week:
African American, GBLTQ, and Urban Fiction annotations from the following students:
Week 14 Prompt
Consider yourself part of the collection management committee of your local library, or a library at which you would like to work. You must decide whether or not to separate GBLTQ fiction and African American Fiction from the general collection to its own special place. Some patrons have requested this, yet many staff are uncomfortable with the idea - saying it promotes segregation and disrupts serendipitous discovery of an author who might be different from the reader. Do you separate them? Do you separate one and not the other? Why or why not? You must provide at least 3 reasons for or against your decision. Feel free to use outside sources - this is a weighty question that is answered differently in a lot of different libraries.