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It is often rare to read books and relate to every experience as a black woman. It’s extremely difficult to live as a black woman in America. We are perceived as a threat. We are perceived as loud, obnoxious, and angry. Like Amanda Seales said, “I’m not hostile. I’m passionate.” We’re a stereotype. If you don’t know what a stereotype is, it’s an over-generalized idea or belief about a certain group of people. These beliefs are often wrong and untrue. For reference in movies and tv shows, if you see an animated movie with a chihuahua, most of the time, the character has a Hispanic or Mexican accent. Or often black men in movies are only seen as violent drug dealers, thugs, or crackheads. It’s a shame, really.
If you need more context, in soooo many movies, black women are one of the three: a slave, a maid, angry. There is so much more to black women. It’s weird that we aren’t allowed to be nerdy, introverted, shy, and intelligent. I am a culmination of all of the above. Anyways, just like in movies, black women aren’t really seen in books. So when I find books with black characters that aren’t over the top, I try to read. I’m constantly reading and trying to find new books. So if you have any ideas, comment below or DM on my IG.
The Hate U Give – Angie Johnson
So first, if you don’t want to read the book *you should,* its been adapted into a movie starring Amandla Stenberg. It tells the story of 16 year old Starr Carter, who is the only witness to her childhood best friend’s fatal encounter with the police. She struggles to keep her anonymity as the story makes national news. Additionally, she has issues maintaining her sense of self during this whole ordeal. Starr is stuck between two worlds As one of the few black people in her school compared to her predominately black neighborhood. It’s the common battle between who she is and who she is “supposed” to be. Throughout the story, Starr finds her voice. The death of her friend opens her eyes to the injustices in the world and how people she thought were her friends really weren’t.
This story fits in perfectly with the present times. African-American boys and men are being singled out and murdered due to their skin tone. The Hate U Give. I love how normal the characters are. There are relatable characters, there’s a small part about Harry Potter and many other elements that perfectly describe black culture and our identity. Also, I thought it was clever for Johnson to name the book, ‘The Hate U Give.” It spells out THUG, which is how many, especially cops, view black people.
Misadventures Of An Awkward Black Girl – Issa Rae
I am obsessed with Issa Rae. Like to the point, I want her to adopt me. I’m in my late twenties, so I don’t think that would be happening, but you get my point. Issa Rae embodies who I want to be. She is the epitome of Black Girl Magic. She’s a badass, director, writer, producer, actress. She based both her book and her TV show Insecure off of her popular Youtube series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which is also the title of her book. Her book is a collection of essays about her life, embarrassing moments, and funny personal stories, which helped shape who she is today. Race plays heavily into her life’s decisions and is integral to who she is. Like her show and web series, Issa Rae is raw and honest. She makes it cool to be weird, nerdy, and out-of-the-box.
The Wedding Date- Jasmine Guillory
Sometimes when you read a book, you just want to laugh and fall in love with the characters. That’s what The Wedding Date is. It’s a sweet romantic comedy with relatable characters. The story starts off with the two main characters, Alexa Monroe, a black woman, and Drew Nichols, a white man who get trapped in an elevator. After their time stuck in the elevator, Alexa agrees to be Drew’s date/fake girlfriend to his ex’s wedding. Their fake romance turns to a blossoming romance. A wedding weekend turns to a one-night stand, which turns into weekend trips with each other. Their connection is evident from the beginning, and the characters fight their feelings for each other all the way to the end of the book. Alexa seems to be married to her job as the chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley while Drew, a pediatric doctor, is dedicated to his idea of anti-relationships. The story quickly switches POV, which helps you stay on top of what each character is thinking. If you’re looking for a quick romantic read, ‘The Wedding Date’ is for you.
What A Time To Be Alone- Chidera Eggerue
Chidera Eggerue, also known as the Slumflower, has thousands of social media followers and has an award-winning blog. Her book ‘What A Time To Be Alone’ is filled with empowering quotes, motivational wisdom, and life lessons. Not only does this book has life gems, but it is also visually stunning as well. It has tons of colors, There’s no way that you wouldn’t be enthralled by just the look of the book alone.
The Slumflower discusses everything from feminism, mental health, race, self-worth, body-image, loneliness, and relationships woes. Reading this book makes you feel like you are getting advice from your best friend. One of my favorite quotes is “”Choose yourself. Over and over again. Even when you’ve let yourself down. Choose yourself. Even when it feels uncomfortable. Choose yourself. Even when you’re tired. Choose Yourself.” Her book focuses on you and what you can do to feel better and to be better, especially when you are going through hardships. Eggerue’s energy is magnetic and makes you want to do more to love yourself a little harder.
Such A Fun Age -Kiley Reid
In Kiley Reid’s debut, she writes about race and how that can heavily influence the world around you. The story follows Emira Tucker and Alix Chamberlain. Alix is a rich, successful white businesswoman who hired Emira, a black woman, to be her child’s babysitter. One night Alix calls Emira to watch her child as a situation was unfolding in her home. Emira takes the child to a grocery store and is racially profiled by a security guard. The security guard seems to think that the child may be kidnapped or in danger. Emira’s story gets recorded and leaked, and the main characters are trying to figure out what to do next. Alix’s guilt over the incident morphs into an obsession with Emira. Emira is trying to move past the situation and if hopelessly floating through life. The characters have a hard time moving forward after the grocery store incident. The novel discusses important topics such as class, race, parenthood, and privilege.
We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the woman we should all aspire to be. I had no idea who she was until I saw her Tedx Talk, she broke down what it means to be a feminist in this day in age. She wrote her short book, 52-page essay, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ based on the Tedx Talk. Often, when people hear the term feminist, there’s a negative connotation. Adichie explains what it means to be a real feminist. She speaks about her own life experiences and what she’s learned growing up in Africa. Adichie discusses how gender roles play a huge in life and how it can affect society as a whole. She writes about how free the world would be without gender roles and gender expectations. If you aren’t a feminist, you should be this book is a great place to start.
Other Books To Read
Here are some other books by black women, I’ll keep updating this post with more reviews.
Difficult Women – Roxane Gay
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay – Phoebe Robinson.
You Can’t Touch My Hair – Phoebe Robinson
An American Marriage- Tayari Jones
Becoming- Michelle Obama
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