Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a massive shift in our world due to the events that took Black lives because of police brutality and racism. In that shift, appeared many book lists shared on social media–particularly for non-Black people to understand how they can better show up, amplify Black voices, fight white supremacy—and demand justice for many of the cases like Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Tony McDade, Tete Gulley, and countless others.
Furthermore, I want to celebrate a few of my favorite Black authors, whose books not only expands the anti-racism conversation, but also represents such vulnerability, truth, healing, and consciousness. Many of the 30 books I have in my personal library, while others are on my ever-growing list to purchase and learn from. So, let’s start with poetry.
Last week, specifically, was incredibly rough regarding disrespect and abuse towards Black womxn, and some of these poets below really helped ease the pain for a little while.
1. Crossfire by Staceyann Chin
2. For the Love of Black Girls by Tatiana Johnson-Boria
3. I Shimmer Sometimes, Too by Porsha Olayiwola
4. The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur
5. Like the Singing Coming off the Drums by Sonia Sanchez
6. Cape Verdean Blues by Shauna Barbosa
7. 1919 by Eve L. Ewing
8. Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
9. HOMIE by Danez Smith
10. Wild Beauty by Ntozake Shange
I have to admit, I’m not much of a fiction reader, hence why this list is pretty small. When I do read fiction, I cling to stories that I can develop strong connections with the characters, and instill the lessons to my own life. The following novels perfectly reflect all of the above.
11. The Street by Ann Petry
12. The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara
13. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
14. Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
I become so fascinated by reading about other’s lives, time periods, movements, and how each of those elements has impacted the world. Additionally, I love self-help and wellness books that calm me down during overwhelming times like these.
15. Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery by bell hooks (I realized that this particular book is out of stock at many bookstores. However, you can search online for the e-book format.)
16. I Still Did It: Stories of Resilience by Nakia Hill
17. I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin
18. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
19. Heavy by Kiese Laymon
20. The Black Panthers: Portraits from an Unfinished Revolution, edited by Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams
21. Gemini by Nikki Giovanni
22. A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump by Lonnie G. Bunch III
23. The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis
24. Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Mamie Till-Mobley
25. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
26. When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down by Joan Morgan
27. Sacred Woman by Queen Afua
28. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
29. Some of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays by June Jordan
30. Assata by Assata Shakur
I hope you have the chance to read one or a few of these books, as they are so important and fulfilling for a time like this. Additionally, remember to be kind to yourself. Take the time getting to know a book, and dissect the material, chapter to chapter. The goal isn’t about having an entire library full of anti-racist books and Black writers. The goal is to actually read their work and allow it to challenge and educate you. Start with one book, and go from there.