Martha Southgate, author of the novel, “The Fall of Rome,” submits “Writers Like Me," published in Best American Essays 2009
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Southgate was motivated by her experiences at writers’ conferences, where she encountered far too few African-American literary writers in her middle-age bracket. There’s a vicious cycle at work that makes lower promotion of black writers a business decision.
But it’s also a generational thing: Z.Z. Packer, thirty-plus author of “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere,” points out that hers was the second generation of college-going African-Americans. She didn’t have to become a lawyer. So, there’s this gap in African-American literature, and Southgate doesn’t want to see that happen again.
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