It’s early February, and I’m scanning my bookshelf for books by Black Authors. I wish to write an article about my personal favorite books, produced or written about the black community. I pick several books, far more than I would have expected, and realize one thing:
Black People’s contribution to literature of all genres and lengths are greatly overlooked in modern society, often belittled in comparison to white authors, and sometimes appropriated! Today, I bring the pile of books on my desk to you, and let them reveal their story that has been suppressed for so long.
First of all, I must talk about one of my favorite fantasy books of all time, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This book has everything- incredible worldbuilding, out of this world characters and a mysterious magic that shadows every page. It’s based on the legend of King Arthur and the round table, describing a dynasty of magic that revolves around the members of the round table. The descendants of these knights fight to destroy the shadow demons that run their world rampant!
Bree is the first Black woman to ever enter the organization, and is sadly patronized and discriminated against because of this. The novel dives deep into the challenges Black People face whilst thriving in a majority-white environment.
Another aspect of Black Culture this novel describes the history of African beliefs and how slavery places deep rooted scars into Black people's lives. Unbeknownst to Bree, she actually uses a different type of magic than the others in the organization. Hers is called “Root”. It is practiced using herbs and other natural materials and can function by communicating with one’s elders. In one heart wrenching scene, Bree must experience the lives of her mother, her grandmother, her great grandmother and beyond. In the end, she emerges with much more power than before. She now sees the beauty in her differences, and is unafraid to use the magic her family has been using for years. In the end, Legendborn teaches to appreciate Black culture and not let others assimilate you into their beliefs.
Another book I found is the modern classic Hidden Figures by Marget Lee Shetterly. This informative and quick non-fiction read tells the story of three women whose stories have been stored up and locked away, hidden from society for so long.
Three women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, all worked as computers for NASA in the early 1960’s. Using their wits and incredible math skills, the three contribute to bringing the first man to the moon. They go through rough days, face racism and stereotypes as Black women in the workplace, but make their mark on this world and leave proud and satisfied.
This book was also transformed into a movie. I saw the movie a few years ago, and I have to say, I enjoyed the movie a bit more than the book. The book was informative and amazing, but seeing these women's stories play out the big screen really opened my eyes. All the actors were incredible, successful Black Women, including Taraji P. Jenson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer.
In conclusion, Hidden Figures demonstrates the impact Black folks and women have had on our worlds for decades. We as a society must acknowledge these instances with as much acceptance and pride as we do with the achievement of white members of society as well.
Finally, one of my personal favorite books by a black author is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This story spans 250 years of horrible mistreatment of Black and African people, as well as embracing their own beautiful culture. In all honesty, I could not put down this book. It’s a beautifully crafted, fast-paced novel that educates and entertains. It’s also part of my favorite genre, historical fiction.
There are several characters in this book, all with their own personal flaws and traits. You learn to love almost all of them like they are family, because the book so wonderfully immerses you into these people’s lives. After reading, I felt melancholy. I felt enlightened, yet sad and heavy. This book gave us modern readers a peek into Black history, and encouraged the appreciation of successful Black People who have risen against a world that pushes them down.
In conclusion, Black writers have touched the hearts of not only me, but millions of people around the world. In the month of February, we are encouraged to learn about and appreciate Black Excellence, and there is no doubt that Black Folks have excelled in the world of writing and literature!