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When it comes to literature, nearly everyone knows of Charles Dickens, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, and Victor Hugo. Western literature has been celebrated for centuries and for many, these authors represent the apex of skilled writers. But what about a continent with a long storytelling history? Where folktales and oral traditions have paved the way for modern tales about life rich in culture and influence? As great as American and European literature have come to be, African literature deserves its place on our shelves next to The Hate U Give and To Kill A Mockingbird.
The past several decades in the U.S. have been characterized by great racial tensions that have come to a boiling point in 2020. Amidst a global pandemic, a defining presidential election, and a rise in social media influence among Gen Z, the transgressions of our nation are in full view for the world to see. And just like in the 1960s, activists today are faced with the issue of whether they will choose to be a pacifist in their fight against oppression or seek justice and equality by any means necessary. In this debate, people are often driven by their morals in their decision making, but is pacifism a viable means of fighting against systemic oppression in a nation where our greatest achievements have been solved through violent means?
The night of July 7, 2016, I sat in my bedroom feeling excited and slightly nervous about the fact that I would be heading off for my freshman college orientation in just a few hours. My excitement quickly turned into heartbreak and fear, however, when I scrolled through my social media feeds and saw that five police officers had been shot and killed during an originally peaceful protest in Dallas, just four hours from where I lived. The shootings were allegedly conducted in retaliation for the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two Black men who were both shot by police officers just a few days earlier. This event struck deep because I had felt personally affected already by the murders of both men.