The month of February is Black History Month.
In New Zealand, we don’t observe Black History Month, so when I first learned about Black History Month and its historical and current significance, it was through watching American television. Black History Month may not be a part of my country’s history, but it is important to so many of you, so I wanted to take the time to highlight this important and absolutely necessary month.
So, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate black authors and their incredible work. I also want to take this opportunity to raise the issue of anti-blackness and how this is a global issue that we must work hard to address, fight against, and to end. To my non-black-PoC friends (especially my non-black Asian friends), I highly encourage you all to [read this article]. Listen, learn, reflect, unlearn, repeat.
For today’s Book Recs, I want to highlight four amazing books by Black authors. To me, they are champions and have made incredible contributions to literature – today, I want to acknowledge, highlight, and celebrate those contributions.
KINDRED BY OCTAVIA BUTLER
Kindred is such a monumental and pivotal contribution to black literature and an absolutely stunning book – the kind I wish I had read sooner.
- Blends historical fiction with time travel, and explores the atrocities of slavery and the white slaveowners, racism, and violence on every level.
- Explores how history can be a part of identity, as Dana, the protagonist, is torn from 1976 California by a strange phenomenon and finds herself in 19th century Maryland.
- Butler’s prose is stellar; the writing in Kindred is emotional, action-packed, and utterly compelling.
- The story breaks down the emotional distance we develop when reading history, has complex relationships and characterizations, and explores the how we can acclimatized to such terrible things.
BINTI BY NNEDI OKORAFOR
This was my first Afrofuturism book, and if Binti is any indicator, it will not be my last.
- A stunning science-fiction that blends themes of culture, family, futurism, and conflict. (Also features non-humanoid extraterrestrials!)
- Despite its length, the worldbuilding is amazing; it is imaginative, immense, and spellbinding. I cannot wait to read more of this series to see the other, incredible worlds.
- The eponymous protagonist is fantastic – I loved her narrative, and I connected with her struggles, uncertainties, dreams, and aspirations.
Find Binti in Goodreads
BROWN GIRL DREAMING BY JACQUELINE WOODSON
When I read Main Street from the anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories and fell in love with Woodson’s writing, I knew I had to read Brown Girl Dreaming. And wow, did I make a fantastic decision.
- It’s about growing up between South Carolina and New York, in a time of the Civil Rights movement and remnants of the Jim Crow still permeated across society.
- Also explores growing up African-American, in a religious household, family, friendship, and finding your voice and the medium that we use to express it.
- Beautifully written in verse, but each poem was powerful, meaningful, and rich with emotion and imagery.
Find Brown Girl Dreaming in Goodreads
PROMISE OF SHADOWS BY JUSTINA IRELAND
I really look up to Justina and what she does for the community, so I absolutely had to support her and read Promise of Shadows!
- Exciting and refreshing take on Greek mythology featuring familiar favourites like Hades, Hermes, and Hera. Also has harpies and other mythical beings!
- Has a wonderful cast with a diversity of characters, especially the black protagonist (with blue hair!!) who is flawed, but was also brave and tried to do the right thing. Oh, and she is a Harpy. 💜
- Such an enjoyable and fun read – the go-to book that has plenty of action and drama as well as thoughtful relationships and introspection.
Find Promise of Shadows on Goodreads
A few months into my endeavour to read more diversely, I identified a gap when it came to books by black authors. I will strive to continue reading more and more books by black authors. Books I hope to read in the future are:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney (2018)
- Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
So friends, tell me:
- What are you reading for Black History Month?
- What does Black History Month to you?