This is the conclusion you would come if you took a look at my bookshelves [1].

Due to current events, one fellow blogger proposed July as a “Black literature month” here in Spain (the Black History Month is in February/October — if you are live either in the UK or in the US — but is not yet widespread here) to which I gladly joined, ready to immerse myself in search of black authors among my shelves… Only to realize (to my horror!) I don’t own any book written by a black person. My library as a whole is pure whiteness and a bit Asian, except for a couple of books that specifically talk about black people but written by white authors, and that, guys, makes me feel ashamed.

Like men who don’t realize there are no women among the CEOs or World Leaders pictured on the news, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of diversity in my shelves if it hadn’t been pointed out by the protests all around the world and my social media feeds filled with fellow readers recommending antiracism books.

What’s more, my utter dismay came when I couldn’t think of any book written by a Spanish black author. A quick search on the internet gave a grand total of five books, and one is actually a photo book [2] to which, surprisingly, I leafed through last autumn visiting a museum. Being a black woman in Spain [3] is the only title available in my public library, and I already made a reservation to go and borrow it tomorrow.

I can only guess the challenges a black person must face here in my country… You see, I have grown up in a city where there was not a big black community: in my primary and high schools (both public) there were only three black children studying at the same time as me, none of them in my class and to whom I never talked. By chance, I worked with one of them for a brief period of time in our twenties but, apart from a strange surname from her father, I never even thought about asking what role her race had played in her life. Because I wouldn’t have thought there was any issue! Privileged whites don’t occupy our time with problems we didn’t know existed and, maybe, with exception of the big cities, I guess, this is the background of my country; a place where black people are thought to be either immigrants or tourists, but certainly not Spaniards.

So here I am, feeling embarrassed, but ready to learn the lesson and start paying close attention to my literary choices. After all, I just aspire to be well-read, and that requires embracing all the literary voices.

*****

[1] You can also come to the conclusion that I am a privileged white a**hole, but I was trying to emulate the “White people can’t jump” statement for the punch.

[2] It is “And you, why are you black?”, by Rubén H. Bermúdez, and it is available in English here.

[3] This is my translation; the original title is “Ser mujer negra en España”, by Desirée Bela-Lobedde.