Now that we’re well into 2018 and most of us have forgotten our resolutions or are recommitting (kudos, overachievers!), one resolution that takes minimal effort other than visiting a bookstore or your internet browser is reading more books. In these trying times of a turbulent presidency, overwhelming exposure to Black trauma and a rising number of crimes against women being reported (and actually taken seriously), it’s easy to lose sight of your identity as a Black woman fighting for equality. Regain some sense to the disorder with one of the oldest forms of escapism: books. Here are five must-reads, in no particular order, that every young Black feminist ought to read before the ball drops on 2019.
“Electric Arches,” Eve L. Ewing
“Electric Arches” is a collection of poems and prose on Black girlhood told through Ewing’s experiences growing up and living in Chicago. Raw narrative illuminates the dark corners of blackness, from her first experience with being called the “N” word, to the shooting death of 6-month-old baby Jonylah Watkins. “Electric Arches” is painful and sparkling, illustrating Black women’s ability to process trauma and struggle through art.
“Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools,” Monique W. Morris
“Pushout” examines the unjust practices of young Black girls being forced out of the education system and into the justice system. As the founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Morris uses data to show how unjust the system is, exposing racial bias and unfair discipline practices, and gives young Black girls a chance to share their stories in a time where the focus has been heavily on Black boys and men.
“Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” Chimamanda Ngozi
Adichie’s “Feminist Manifesto” is written as a letter to her friend who had given birth to a daughter and has become an unofficial guide for nurturing future feminists. Her suggestions push back against gender roles and patriarchal values while giving young daughters room to develop their own opinions and identity and striving for equality.
“The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Though originally published in 1982, Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel remains a body of work that resonates. Sexual expression and female identity have always been used as a weapon against Black women, and in “The Color Purple,” Walker uses Celie’s story, told through letters to God and her sister, to show what it means to be resilient when the world says you are ugly and unworthy.
“This Will Be My Undoing,” Morgan Jerkins
Jerkin’s debut novel is a collection of essays that tell the story of her experiences as a Black woman living in white America. Her essays dive into the space that Black women exist in, a complex struggle between race and gender. “This Will Be My Undoing” touches on what it means to fight back against misogyny and marginalization while also dealing with racism, prejudices and the oppressive world.