Top reads: Black History Month 2017

Black history month


So, its Black History month (USA)  and its very important that we all educate ourselves about this month of tremendous importance.  The aim- to fill us with compassion and celebrate Black history. We can encompass the struggles, the tragedies, the triumphs and achievement of Black people all over the world. Here are a few must reads: 

1. Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson

“America is in trouble,” begins Michael Eric Dyson’s new book. This is not news to black Americans. Strangely enough, Dyson,  an ordained Baptist minister, ultimately attempts to shake readers out of their malaise and confront the reality of white supremacy in America head-on. 

2. High Cotton, Darryl Pinckney

Originally published in 1992, Pinckney’s debut novel about the world of upper-class blacks is now in reprint. Its young, unnamed narrator, born in Indianapolis, is a fourth-generation college graduate; and as is almost always the case, with such privilege also comes a burden. He finds himself inevitably caught in Du Bois’s phenomenon of “double-consciousness” – performing his blackness for white people, yet self-conscious about it with black people. Pinckney teases out the many subtleties of his protagonist’s life and the colourful folks who comprise his family, with a specificity that is comforting to anyone who has experienced some of the same. 

3. Octavia Butler, Kindred

Perhaps Octavia Butler’s most well-known work, Kindred is the story of Dana, a young woman in 1970s California who finds herself mysteriously transported back in time to the plantation where her ancestors were once enslaved. The speculative premise and the timeless matters of race, gender and legacy of slavery help make Kindred break open new channels into an already inviting and provocative story. It follows the success of March, the graphic novel series – co-written by John Lewis – which charts the civil rights struggles of the freedom riders.

28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot: Reset Your Body, Lose Weight, Gain Energy & Feel Great by Jessica Jones and Wendy Lopez

Remember when Beyoncé made that special announcement on Good Morning America that she was going vegan? Beyonce, like many others, is hip to the freeing possibilities of good health. Even if that means restricting the things you eat. Nutritionists Jones and Lopez want to make it easy, fun and affordable to improve health through diet while still eating food with flavour. 

4. The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers

Many of the writers in this collection admit that they’ve never met Michelle Obama – and yet, like so many of us, feel like they know her. Ironically,Benilde Little says in her essay Michelle in High Cotton: “She [is] part of my tribe.” The 16 writers in this book, including Ava DuVernay, Damon Young, Roxane Gay and another black first lady, Chirlane McCray, in personal, critical and conversational essays revel in what it means for Michelle to have been “first” – and with that milestone, a symbol of black womanhood, interpreted infinite ways.

5. Rest In Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin share in great detail what the world came to know. The casual stroll that led to his death. The eventual acquittal of his killer, and the international movement for the protection of black life Martin’s death helped spawn. They also share the anecdotes about their son inevitably left out from public discourse. After all, before he was the boy in the hoodie, he was just their son. In the aftermath, they’ve both lent their voices to conversations about police brutality and racial injustice. “We tell this story in the hope that it might shine a path for others who have lost, or will lose  children to senseless violence.”

6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Thomas’s young adult novel personifies the many characters of police brutality that have captured nationwide attention over the last few years. Khalil, a black teenage boy, killed by police. Starr, the narrator who witnesses it. Their families, communities, and the media, which variously vilify or vindicate the boy who can no longer speak for himself. Moreover, with Trayvon Martin’s story, much of the humanity of these victims is stripped from them in order to prove a point. Thomas brings Khalil and his forever-changed friend Starr back to life in resplendent colour. 

7. The Sell-out by Paul Beatty

Actually, Beatty became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for this satire. This story is about a black man in modern-day Los Angeles.  Who, after a series of unfortunate events, moves to reinstitute segregation and slavery. In fact, he hires a slave for his own home. Eventually, winding him and his heated case at the supreme court. In any case, Satire, like science fiction, is useful for finding the commonalities between imagined worlds and authentic ones. We all could use such a biting refresher on what’s real.

8. Kill ’Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

Arguably, the most common mystery about James Brown is what is he saying on those records? That’s exactly what McBride is trying to discover. He travels to Brown’s homelands of South Carolina and Georgia and interviews the people who knew him best. In fact, the book’s title references Brown’s philosophy on how to treat a crowd. McBride’s book, published almost 10 years after Brown’s death, is that hankering for more.

9. The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

Next, Omotoso’s second novel is about elderly, widowed neighbours Hortensia and Marion.  One a black lady and other a white lady who trade dispute and bitterness across the hedge they share. Meanwhile, In middle America, this might not be a story, yet in post-apartheid Cape Town, the significance of the relationship carries greater weight. Incidentally an accident brings the two together under one roof, allowing them to connect as women rather than enemies. All things considered, t invites them to reflect on the meaning of a relationship of both personal history and complicated national history they both share.


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