Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins
Published December 2016, Read January 2017
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ (of 5)
The collection of short stories, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins, was published posthumously. She was an accomplished playwright and professor in New York, but died at only the age of 46 due to breast cancer. Since she passed away, her daughter has been slowly sifting through the massive collection of writings Collins left behind. One such product of this effort is this collection.
While the stories were perhaps never intended to be placed side by side, the result is staggering. The pieces range from 15 page stories to less than two pages. The shorter stories are beautiful, poignant vignettes of black lives. No story gives you a complete picture, and as I read, I found there was much I did not understand. But perhaps, as a white woman of immense privilege, I was not meant to understand. These moments highlight for me the incredible difference in experience between myself and African Americans, particularly black women. And yet, not once did I feel actively excluded. I was an outsider looking in, yes, but I was not an unwelcome learner. My assumptions and biases were not accommodated, but my person was something Collins wanted present in these spaces she created.
I highly recommend Whatever Happened to Interracial Love. It is a collection written more than thirty years ago, but is very much of the moment we are living in today. The brief and powerful scenes Collins creates echo through you like the poetry of Rita Dove or the prose of Toni Morrison. She certainly deserves to be remembered as one of the greats of not just African American literature, but 20th century literature as well.