Congratulations to Herb Harris, M.D., who has won the Michael Steinberg Award for Nonfiction, selected by judge David Mura. Of Harris’ essay Mura writes, “Portrait of an Artist as a Black Man” explores the complexities that arise when the author attempts a literal drawing of himself. When the drawing does not seem to render a photographic image of himself, he finds himself confronting the stereotypes and images of black men in our society and his own internal struggles with his identity. The essay that results is unique, thoughtful, deeply felt and strikingly honest and open.” It’s worth noting here that Harris was runner-up for this award last year.
These are important reports. These essayists are “mandated reporters” — mandated by conscience, by love, and by our shared need for an accurate history, one written by those contending with reality, suffering it, meeting it, and not those concocting and supporting myths to justify their privilege. These writers know that history pours into every moment from every angle and above the roar of those rapids we must try to be heard.