My Journey of Self-Discovery through Black Literature
I consulted a few lists. I consulted over 20 lists, actually, to come up with a collective of books that needed to be read by African American men and/or women and I came up list of 136 books. However, I’m only going to share 15. The first 10 will be books that I aspire to read. The other 5 will be honorable mention. The 5 honorable mention will be books that, clearly, didn’t make the top 10 but that I have a personal interest in.
- The Color Purple, Alice Walker
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
- Native Son, Richard Wright
- The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
- Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
- Go Tell It On The Mountain, James Baldwin
- Kindred, Octavia E. Butler
- Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley – I have no idea how this didn’t make the original list. No idea!
- Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillian
- The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
- Assata, Assata Shakur
So, here they are. My 15 books. I’m not going to go into detail on each one. But, each one of them is important. I’m super excited. I’ve visited the pages of some of them before (in college and high school) and I really look forward to doing it again, this time for a personal understanding of the novel an the author.
As I near my summer and the travelling begins, I’ll be sure to update you on each one!
29 Things I Love About Being Black
In honor of February being the month of both Love and a Celebration of Black History, I thought I’d fuse the two and see what we can come up with. Some of these are silly and some have serious notes, but all are true to my love of my blackness. So, not in any special order, here we go:
- Black Social Media. Really, Black Twitter. When I can sit in a house all by myself and bond with people I may or may not know on Twitter about how #theWiz was everything, and then see every meme I’ve ever needed on Instagram the next day. I consider that a win. But more importantly, they keep me much more in tune with what’s going on in the real world, and not what’s going on in the CNN Newsroom.
2. Characteristic variation. My blackness looks, feels, stands and struts nothing like my sister’s blackness. And we are fine in every damn kind of blackness.
4. Strength. Our people have endured Hell on Earth. And still we rise.
5. Standard setting. Pop Culture has been inspired by black folks and our awesomeness since the beginning of its existence. Even though y’all forgot to give us our credit, we see you playa.
6. An inability to be complacent. Being aware of society’s opposition of your success does a lot to keep you going. If you know you have to be better than someone just to get noticed, you work a little harder.
7. The beginning. We are literally the beginning of civilization. Go ask Lucy.
8. Unspoken Bonds. You know what I mean. When white kids be actin’ up in the store and there’s one other black person in your line of sight. You know what it is, b.
9. Royalty. So, there’s this beautiful part of our history that includes Kings, Queens, armies and nations. And we have been moved around and migrated so many times that we don’t know who is and who isn’t “directly” related. Therefore, we all are.
10. Innovation. The stop light. The Air Conditioner. The Remote Control. The Refrigerator. Things you use to function in everyday life came from the minds of beautiful black folk. Clearly there’s more, but just like you’re too lazy to live without a remote control, I’m too lazy to list all of the great things. Google can help you, for sure. Or, the Blackinventor.com. They know a few things, too.
11. Black Don’t Crack.
12. Rhythm & Blues. Every beautiful love song that I have fallen in love to has come from the sultry, soothing or sexy (or all three) voice of a black man or woman. They’re just unmatchable. Hell, even Joe made me feel a different type of way about Adele.
13. Intersectionality. The dissection of where my identity lies (even though to some it may be largely unpopular) is amazing. No, it’s not isolated to just being black and woman. But, it’s one of the many things I love about myself. Not familiar with intersectionality, here is an article on the definition as it relates to women’s intersectionality and feminism*.
*Intersectionality isn’t only important to women or feminism but to all people. I just happen to love the “enhancements” of my own.
14. “All I have to do is stay black and die.” and other varying “stay black” or “black power” references. Because, really, no one else can love themselves in their most basic form like we can.
15. Creativity. I love the various creations we have made in celebration of our blackness. Things like this and this. The creativity in our words and at the ends of our brushes is unmatchable greatness.
17. Hip Hop. While the rest of the American population is thinking that the “American Dream” is about hotdogs on the grill, Americas past time (baseball for those of you who got lost on the way) and eating apple pie, we’re over here eatin’ #PattiePies discussing what it’s like to start from the bottom. It really doesn’t take much to understand how closely rap music reflects what the American Dream fundamentally is.
18. Shonda Rhimes. Girl, if you don’t know…. Ms. Google and Brotha Netflix can help you to crawl out from under that rock where you been stayin’.
19. The Names. Fuck Raven-Symone and her smooth ass name that we all used to love, until she started to say things that not even my 65-year-old, white, grandma says. But really, the names are phenomenal. Can you imagine a white baby named Kanye? Beyonce? Hakeem? Dejanae? No. Why not, you ask? F.U.B.U., good friend, that’s why.
20. The intersectionality of Academia and the Turn-up. I could study for a graduate level Linguistics final and sing “Back That Azz Up”. Because Cash Money will forever be takin’ over (for the ’99 the 2000s), especially during exam week. I can go to a party full of hip gyration, dark rooms, sweat, and alcohol and still feel safe. The turn up is a comfortable section of black college life that lies on the outside edge of the PWI-lifestyle, next door to the Beer Pong apartments and the “Frat Parties”. It’s open to everyone, but understood by few.
22. Black Greek Life. While I have a love/hate relationship with the Divine 9, my love for it far outweighs my hate. It’s not even real life hate, more like… strong annoyance with some greeks that I’ve met over the years. But, when we remember why our founder’s created these beautiful family networks, we get some great things done though. There’s no denying that. Let’s just say, 100 years ago (or 97 in my case, to be specific,) was a long time ago, we know. And sometimes, negroes forget that most honorable big brother/sister wasn’t strollin’ for a prize, but was advocating for a safe space for their blackness. My all time favorite part of Black Greek Life though, it’s FOREVER! You don’t get a degree and forget about it, you are encouraged to CONSISTENTLY serve your community within this family network, in the name of XYZ org. It may have started in college, but if you’re really in it, it doesn’t end there.
23. Black Sexuality. While, this can be overused (as all things every where can), I absolutely love the natural sexiness of the Black population. You can call it my preference, you can call it a fetish if that makes you feel better. Whatever. But gahhdamn, we fine.
24. The fight. Oh, we aren’t “human”, you say? You gon’ treat us like it though. Oh, we aren’t ‘smart’, you say? We’ll take all these college degrees (and you can #staymadabby). Oh, we’re lazy? Well excuse me while I’m on my way to my third job today. Historically, everything we are told we shouldn’t be or we can’t be, we have been.
25. Stereotypes. Yeah, I said it. Sure, when in the wrong hands, they’re hurtful and must be handled delicately. But, in the hands of our own, they can be hilarious and (dare I say it) helpful. Stereotypes, when used by Kevin Hart, Katt Williams, Mike Epps and Eddie Murphy are healing, they’re comedy in its purest form and they’re real. This is when they’re acceptable and this is when I love them.
26. Hair. I tried to get through a whole 29 things without mentioning this because it’s such a varying topic for me. Yesterday, I absolutely loved my hair. Yesterday, I was also ready to go Jada-Pinkett-bald. There’s just endless opportunities for beautiful when kinky, coily, natural, straight and all the other fabulous options get through into the pot. Buzzfeed knows what’s up (but so does YouTube).
27. Acceptance. This is probably the most important to me as a biracial woman, and the mother of a multiracial child. It’s hard to maneuver through your blackness when you’re raised by a white woman. But, that didn’t stop me from being accepted by my black peers and finding my place in the black community. I guess when they gave us the one-drop rule, they didn’t think we would find positive ways to look at it. Well, I did. Because without it, I’m literally stuck in the center.
28. The Read. Really, if you don’t know by now, you should be ashamed of yourself. Praise the sweet higher power that brought me to Crissle & Kid Fury’s voices. They are a lifeblood in my household.
29. We matter, and we’re finally getting it. For a long time, I was angry. But then, I realized there are so many little factors that predetermine our lifestyles before we are even breathing. It’s sad, it’s infuriating, and more and more people are talking about it now. That means, we’re fed up. We’re sick and tired. We get it (well, we’re starting to) and we’re making strides. For along time, I think, we weren’t saying #BlackLivesMatter out loud because we weren’t sure anyone would believe us. Now, we’re just reminding you that we know, and we know you wanna act like you don’t. That used to work, too. But not anymore, because we’ve lost too many.
What do you love about your blackness? Let’s talk about it!