"When Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe was in college, a European professor assigned "Mister Johnson," which portrayed Africa as a land of grinning, shrieking savages. Time magazine called it "the best novel ever written about Africa."
Achebe was outraged. He vowed that if someone as ignorant as Joyce Cary, the novel's Anglo-Irish author, could write such a book, "perhaps I ought to try my hand at it."
The result was a masterpiece: "Things Fall Apart," his 1958 debut novel, changed the face of world literature by presenting the colonization of Africa from an African point of view. With more than 10 million copies sold in 50 languages, it established Achebe as the patriarch of modern African literature.
Achebe, who has been praised by Nelson Mandela as the writer who "brought Africa to the world," died Friday in Boston after a brief illness. He was 82."
People who think racism is simply the idea of consciously hating people because they are a different race are missing the bigger picture. It's about how our unconscious minds are shaped to believe lots of stereotypes about the other race. From parents, media, religion, advertisements, text books, all parts of our culture that shape our understanding of things. This is illustrated later in the LA Times piece:
"Growing up, he had absorbed Western prejudices so thoroughly that, he later wrote, "I did not see myself as an African to begin with." But in college, it dawned on him that he had given up too much of his identity and could not accept white authors' portrayals of Africans as culturally inferior and subhuman. "If you've never heard of Chinua Achebe, now's a good time to read one of his books. Loussac's library's online catalog lists 7 titles:
- UAA - one print copy
- Muldoon - one audio
- Matsu - one audio and one print
- Loussac - three print
- Kodiak - one print
- Valdez - one print
And if you aren't near Anchorage, I'm sure you can find a library copy or a used copy somewhere nearby. Meanwhile, you can read the whole LA Times article here.