|Library Booklist Includes Sister Souljah for Dr. King's Birthday|
Nearly 20 years have passed. Today's Sister Souljah is a best-selling author of fiction novels in a genre called "street lit," which is hip hop literature set in an urban landscape. Guns and gangsters are part of the cast. Now the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County -- perhaps forgetting that she once advocated racial slaughter -- recommends Cincinnatians should read Sister Souljah's latest work to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It could be argued that years have passed and everybody should move on and forget what she said. But years have passed since King spoke to us about non-violence. And nobody wants to forget what he said. Words have power. Sister Souljah's seem directly opposed to the entire mission of King's life built on a philosophy of non-violent social and economic change. King was a victim of racism when he was murdered in Memphis. He knew the risks and never flinched. The official legal proclamation that makes his birthday a holiday in Ohio declares a commemoration of Dr. King calls for "inter-racial cooperation, youth anti-violence, community service and other principles of non-violent social change and racial equality . . ."
Souljah's novel n the library reading list is "Midnight and the Meaning of Love." It is about a teenage boy and his teenage wife. He is black and 16, she is Japanese. Yes, they are underage minors. There is sex, violence, polygamy and a showdown with Asians -- who some might feel are stereotyped in Sister Souljah's tale. Fans believe she has mellowed since she became the Queen of urban lit. Still, it's hard to square her gritty novel with the humanitarian works that Ohio's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission wants celebrated in his memory this year. The commission's idea of a humanitarian is someone who pours their heart into making life better for others -- someone who promotes the betterment of all people and the elimination of pain and suffering through their own selfless service. Pretty tall order.
Obviously, Sister Souljah books should not be banned nor censored. The library is absolutely within its responsibilities to own and circulate titles under her authorship. But it might want to weigh whether her newst novel is consistent with Dr. King's standards, teachings and the spirit of his dreams for our nation. He knew that hate was hate, whether preached by white, black, Christian, Muslim or anybody in any culture or religion. He stood up to it.
Here's the link to the library's entire Martin Luther King Day booklist. And you can read below to see where Sister Souljah appears:
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY
January 16th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Celebrate his birthday with one of these African American staff picks from the Library's collection.