Black Literature to Add to Your Reading List
By: Mystique Myrthil
The last few weeks have been trying for everyone around the world. Watching the news and scrolling through social media makes it seem like we’re at a different time other than 2020. The death of George Floyd has brought to light the mistreatment of Black people in American once again. An uproar of emotions flooded nations, a wave of support for Black-owned businesses began, and educational resources took over social media feeds.
We’re lucky to live in a generation where the internet and social media provide endless resources in our hands. There are multiple ways to support Black people in our country right now; donating, protesting, voting, informing yourself and others, and remembering that even after it isn’t “trending” on social media, Black lives will continue to matter. Continuing to educate ourselves on prejudice after everyone stops talking about it was what will make the difference.
An easy first step to educating and understanding what life is like for Black people in America is through Black literature. We’ve rounded up five books that give perspective and insight into the reality of being Black in America throughout history and today.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This book should be number one on everyone’s list. Coates writes a story about a Black father’s past and a son’s future. He doesn’t miss any details when explaining his place in the world as a Black man. There are many lessons to be learned from this reading, and they will stick with you. This beautifully written book will also make you feel some emotions you never felt before.
All About Love by Bell Hooks
What is love? Can love repair what’s broken in our world from 400 years ago? Bell Hooks explains her versions of love in this 13 chaptered book. Hooks describes how society hasn’t provided a mold for learning to love. She discusses the culture of respect our society follows now; appeal, sex, and desire. This book can help you gain a new perspective on how to view certain situations and educate you about the power structures built in our society today.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
“A Raisin In The Sun” isn’t a book, but this play is a staple in Black playwriting. It tells a story about a Black family from Southside Chicago with unfulfilled dreams of having the “perfect” life. It’s raw and showcases what life was like for Black people only 60 years ago. Some have probably read this book in high school, but why not refresh your memory? Instead of reading the book for class, approach it from a new perspective and honestly educate yourself.
Such a Fun Age by Kiely Reid
“Such a Fun Age” dives deep into the current system of class and race in society today from two different perspectives. Erima is a young Black college student who babysits for Alix, a successful white woman. One night while babysitting, Erima gets accused of kidnapping, and the story goes from there. This book captures a mix of emotions. It is funny, uncomfortable, loving, and highlights racial issues that may feel familiar to some.
Passing by Nella Larsen
Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Kendry is a young black woman passing as a white woman married to her white racist husband, who doesn’t know her true identity. Throughout the book, Kendry is reconnecting with an old friend Irene Redfield who is just as light-skinned as Kendry but chose to identify as Black. Kendry attends frequent gatherings in her old community, which leads her to long for the life and the Black identity she abandoned. “Passing” is a thought-provoking book that takes a close look at prejudice, racial identity, and more.
These are just a few of the countless books that are not only page-turning but also enlightening. Don’t be afraid to dive in and feel someone else’s life, that’s what reading is about—leaving your reality for a while to see how someone else has lived. Now is the time to educate ourselves, and we can start by reading amazing books like these.