Black History Month - A Reading ListFeven Keleta
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and recognise the contributions of Black visionaries who have shaped history and had a lasting impact on our societies. However, it's important to remember that their legacy should be honoured and their stories elevated beyond just one month a year. Consequently, it's essential to turn to books and literature to learn about and amplify the voices of Black authors, activists, and thinkers who are shaping our conversations on race, gender and class.
That’s why we have compiled a list of 12 must-read books that centre Black voices and provide powerful perspectives:
1. "Belly of the Beast" by Da’Shaun L. Harrison: This book delves into the complex relationship between anti-fatness as anti- blackness, providing a critical analysis of the intersections of race, body, and gender.
2. "Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte" edited by May Ayim, Katharina Oguntoye, and Dagmar Schultz: This anthology features essays and stories from Afro-German women, sharing their experiences and tracing the history of Blackness in Germany.
3. "Schwarz wird großgeschrieben" edited by Evein Obulor and Rosa Mag: brings together the voices of Black people living in Germany, who share their perspectives, experiences, and identities in essays and personal narratives.
4. "Knitting for Radical Self-Care: A Modern Guide" by Brandi Cheyenne Harper, provides a fresh and modern perspective on the art of knitting, along with lessons on radical self-care and practical ways to incorporate into daily life.
5. "Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals" by Alexis Pauline Gumbs blends Black feminist theory with lessons learned from marine mammals, exploring how communities can thrive in even in challenging times.
6. "Sisters of the Yam" by bell hooks is a powerful examination of the effects of sexism and racism on the emotional health of Black women and explores their experiences with imploring their own identities, and self-recovery. You can read this book on your own; however, it is also recommended to be read in a group setting.
7. "As Black as Resistance" by William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi provides a critical analysis of Black liberation struggles and Black anarchism – offering a path towards resistance, liberation and freedom for Black people.
8. In "Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination", Robin D.G. Kelley provides an in-depth examination of the various visions, theories, and approaches to freedom that have been developed since the emergence of Black Radicalism(s) over the last century. Drawing on the insights of influential activists of the African diaspora like C. L. R. James, Aimé Césaire, and Malcolm X, Kelley discusses the potential of Communism, the surrealist mentality, the impact of Black Radical Feminism(s), and the ongoing dream of reparations for slavery and Jim Crow.
9. In "How Europe Undeveloped Africa" Walter Rodney offers a comprehensive analysis of the centuries-old economic exploitation of Africa by Europe. The book investigates how this exploitation has resulted in the unequal development of African nations, as Europe's capitalist growth was inextricably linked to the intentional underdevelopment of Africa over the centuries.
10. "The Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon offers a powerful analysis of the brutal impact of colonisation on both the individual and society. By utilising psychoanalysis, Fanon exposes the dehumanising consequences of colonialism. Furthermore, he delves into the political, cultural and social implications of creating a movement aimed at decolonizing individuals and entire nations.
11. "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi is a novel that tells the story of an Asante family torn apart by the effects of the Transatlantic Slave trade. The book traces the lives of the family's descendants through seven generations as they navigate their experiences and, after two centuries, finally reunite in Ghana.
12. "Kindred" by Octavia Butler is a captivating book that delves into the deplorable system of slavery, the complexities of family relationships, and the weight of social responsibility. The story follows the main character as she sets out on a journey back in time, which ultimately compels her to face the harsh realities of the present day. Everything in this book is interconnected, highlighting the intricate nature of life's relationships.