by Nicolette Bethel
There's an email making the rounds (I received it several months ago) entitled "Blacks Don't Read". Being Black, I read it. The general message of the email is simple and thought-provoking: one of the reasons African-Americans are still second-class citizens in their country is that they don't read.
The email isn't talking about illiteracy. It's talking about choosing not to read when one could choose to do so. And it's arguing that the consequences of making such a choice are, fundamentally, political.
In 2000, I sat down to watch a special episode of A&E's Biography on the 100 most influential people of the millennium: politicians, inventors, writers, artists, composers, religious leaders, soldiers. One by one the people I considered likely to be at the top of the list were eliminated, until at last I was stumped: who would be named the most influential person of the last thousand years? The answer: Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press.