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Andrea’s Book Nook: Five books written by Black women you need to read

By Andrea Silvia Santisteban Fort, March 2 2021—

Becoming, Michelle Obama

In this book, Michelle Obama takes us on a journey through it all — her childhood, her school years, university, her career, adulthood, motherhood and her years as the first lady of the United States. Through stories, she talks about her accomplishments and things she is proud of, how she got into Princeton, worked as a successful lawyer, fell in love, became a mother and joined her husband in the adventure of running for president of the most powerful country in the world. In addition, she opens up about all the struggles and hardships she had to face. This memoir gives the reader a very vulnerable perspective and lessons from a woman of colour who had to deal with several political campaigns and scrutiny in the public eye, but who also got to meet what she describes as “many kind, brave and lovely people.” I was personally blown away by Obama’s remarkable story. She took on an enormous task with grace, resilience and incredible effort.

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid

This book tells the story of Emira, a Black 25-year-old college graduate who is babysitting the almost-three-year-old Briar. Alix, Briar’s mother, is a social media influencer and an advocate for women’s voices, who seeks attention and perceived power. 

One day, an upsetting incident happens — another shopper at a supermarket becomes suspicious of the young Black girl carrying a small blonde child. Security intervenes, things get ugly and the incident is captured on video. Emira just wants to forget about it, but Alix develops an obsession with Emira as she sees herself as the “saviour” who could help Emira. As the story progresses, things get more complicated. The point of view shifts between that of Alix, the white influencer, and Emira, the Black employee who is actually experiencing it all, allowing the audience to get different perspectives. Such a Fun Age has a fascinating plot with very complex characters and dives into subjects of racism, privilege and arrogant attitudes some so-called “allies of the movement” can have on the matter. 

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give follows the story of the 16-year-old Black girl, Starr Carter. She lives in a fairly poor neighbourhood but goes to a white-dominated, elite private school. Starr finds herself in the middle of these two very different realities. One night, that uneasy balance is broken as she witnesses the shooting of Khalil, a childhood friend, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil’s death makes national news and gets the attention of protesters, intimidating police officers and drug lords. Everyone wants to know what really happened that night. This book really dives into the complexity of the Black Lives Matter movement, diversity and police brutality through an amazing plot and an insightful main character.

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

The plot of this book is based on the relationship of Stella and Desiree, twin sisters who grow up in Mallard, Louisiana — a town mainly populated by light-skinned Black people who seek the “vanishing” of darker skin tones. As the sisters witness and endure brutal racism, they decide to leave for New Orleans to find new opportunities and freedom, each one taking a very different path. This book leaves the reader with a lot of new information to discuss on subjects of social class, colourism, trauma and complex family dynamics as it tackles the issue of race in the United States.

Why I am No Longer Talking to White People about Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

This is a well-argued and thoughtful book that really gets to the heart of why racism affects us all. The perspective of Reni Eddo-Lodge, a Black woman who grew up in the UK, shows how structural racism perpetuates the division and inequality between class, gender and race. This book dives into the subject of racism as a complicated matter of power, money and control. Society’s structure allows white people to rarely notice race unless it is explicitly a topic of discussion. Why I am No Longer Talking to White People about Race shows us that racism is everywhere. From shocking incidents to micro-aggressions, this non-fiction book emphasizes the importance of working as a society to deter and eventually end this problem.

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