I was taught, by my parents, that the "N" word is an ignorant person -- male or female, and of any race. And I accept that to be its definition. Even though I don't believe the word is interchangeably related to all Black people, I know I would not like someone calling me that word in a negative way.
As a gay man, I used to think that I knew. I had experienced discrimination from people on the streets and in my family. I had to march in the streets for the right to get married and for equal protection under the law -- I thought that being a part of a minority gave me some insight into what other minorities felt. Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong.
Talking about race isn't easy. It's personal, it's political, it's visceral. That these were two of the most hotly anticipated and talked-about books of the year only underscores the power of literature to provide a window into this most difficult of subjects. Here are twelve books that have changed the way we talk about race in America.
My son turns 14 today. I'm sure he's wishing for all sorts of stuff: an Xbox, Beats headphones, maybe even good grades. However, my wish for my son on his 14th birthday is much more fundamental. I wish for him to be able to walk to the grocery store without being harassed or gunned down. I wish for him to live.