Revisiting Zoe: Exploring the Effects of a White Literary Tradition

The Stripes

literary

When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer.

My reasons were not heroic. I did not initially see writing as a way for me to think about my role as an African immigrant in America. As a child, I did not fully understand how the lack of black heroes and heroines in the books I read affected my writing and my self-worth. For me, writing served was just a fun outlet.

Since I was never one to write about a princess and her prince, my early pieces dealt with “real kids” and their “real problems.” The main character of my first story—written at the tender age of 12—was Zoe, a blonde white female with blue eyes. Her life problems revolved around issues with the boy next door and her best friend—a classic love triangle. Looking back now, these “dramatic” problems were anything but.

As I grew, my…

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