GEH, Protein Wisdom is having problems so here is a comment I meant to post but couldn't:
In fact, black imprints are publishing at huge rates and showing tremendous sell through. That's actually the crux of the problem. I personally do not feel comfortable about being represented by someone who is ignorant of my experience. In TV, and in the movies, there are very few representations of the black experience that are truly owned by black people. So the same stereotypes tend to be reproduced, and basically, it's boring.
This issue did not come up in a vaccuum, with hypotheticals and what ifs and suchlike as some may believe. There's a long history of white representation of blacks in demeaning and insulting ways- stretching from minstrel shows to the rap videos of today(who watches that stuff? white people.) Thus, there is a market and a desire to have your experience represented by someone who has undergone at least a part of your experience.
Maybe in a perfect world where whites are not so deeply ignorant of black people, or in the hands of a master who can write about anyone so realistically that it doesn't matter, we wouldn't have an AA lit section. But if wishes were fishes, we'd all have a nice fish fry. Not to mention, sometimes I'm tired about hearing about white folk or reading from the white point of view. Most of the books in 'fiction' are that way, and yea, sometimes I don't feel like digging through them to discover a new black author. With the advent of the internet, it's become easier, but sometimes I like impulse buys.
Oh yea, and a black author discusses this. I don't get why a non black person thinks they can't go into the AA lit section, or read books about other cultures in general. I read about India, Egypt, Nigeria, Nepal, China, Europe, white folks from America in books all the time, and I can relate, and my head, in fact, does not explode.