My sister posted this question on Twitter earlier, and I think it's a good question:
Does "black fiction" really need a separate section?
— Cinnamon Sprinkles (@TheBossLadyK) January 31, 2014
Unfortunately, I went to Wikipedia to get this next fact. lol African-Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population as of 2010. I remember learning that and being surprised, because Dover, Delaware, is about 40% African-American.
So literature-wise, there is a smaller percentage of black writers. I can only imagine when you go into a bookstore and there's a separate section for black fiction, it's so black readers can find it easier? Black people in general like to feel that they are acknowledged, and if it were interspersed in general literature, I guess it would be harder to find...
At the same time, I don't think black people should limit themselves to just black reading, which I know people who do, to read experiences that they can relate to or topics that appeal to them. Black fiction generally doesn't appeal to someone like me, who grew up in a predominantly white community before moving to Delaware, because I didn't have the "normal" black experiences, so I tend to skip that section altogether anyway.
Also, I think when certain groups of people ask to be treated equally, they should also try not to be treated separately. I think a few authors would get a pleasant surprise and an increase in their fan base if their books were integrated with the rest of the fiction (not to say there aren't white people already reading black fiction). That's how I fell in love with Octavia Butler: I picked up Dawn because I saw "Butler", and I was thinking Robert Olen Butler, which is what I was hooked on at the time. Dawn is a Science Fiction novel with a black woman as the main character, but I'm sure white women could relate to the struggle Lilith was facing, trying to escape from hideous (albeit harmless) aliens who planned to mate her using their genes so humanity could go on. I never would have picked up Octavia Butler if it weren't next to Robert Olen, at least not as early as I did, and I'm glad I did!
So, to answer my sister's question, I would say, no.