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  • Writer's pictureChavonn Willams Shen

Books to Read by Black Writers Outside of Anti-Racist Literature

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

Reading Nic Stone's incredible article broke through my focus on compiling anti-racist texts in favor of re-reading books with Black characters fulfilling the same roles as white ones in mainstream literature. These books aren't solely geared towards being anti-racist, but rather show Black people living in ways that aren't exclusively defined by racism. To quote Stone, "...The more we see Black people living—loving and doing and being and feeling and going on adventures and solving mysteries and being the heroes—the more we come to recognize our shared humanity." White America recognizing Black people's humanity is absolutely crucial to dismantling state sanctioned violence and raising the next generation of racial justice advocates. Here are some of my favorite books about Black people being.

And of course, support your local libraries and BIPOC owned bookstores!

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

This book made me realize how much racism has stunted my imagination. Even though I finished it in less than a day, I kept re-reading the first three pages as the solutions proposed to societal ills were so revolutionary. I hope one day the town of Lucille (named after Lucille Clifton!) can be a real life model on how to implement structural and personal change.

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

The Changeling holds space for those struggling with their own feelings toward families all while being an epic fantasy novel.

This is my go-to for people who say they're not interested in poetry. One, the cover photo is glorious. And two, even the most ardent poetry haters can appreciate the creativity put into these poems.

Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales told by Virginia Hamilton; illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillion

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Being a Black person of slave descent, there are so many gaps in my knowledge about distant family history. These folktales helped me imagine what that history could have been like.

I wrote a review for this book a while back. In all seriousness, read everything she's ever written.

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