Treat Your Shelf: Black History Month

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As University reading lists are often pale, stale and overwhelmingly male, Arts and Culture have compiled a list of the best literature by Black writers in order to diversify your bookcase and honour the rich tapestry of the Black story.

To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism – Rebecca Walker

This collection of essays exploring the realities and complexities of identifying as a third-wave feminist is certainly a must-read. Rebecca Walker, editor and daughter of writer/activist Alice Walker, excellently articulates her experience of escaping the ‘feminist ghetto’ of the second wave in the introduction; her tone is delicate yet firm. The collection includes essays covering themes from being a supermodel to seeking marriage and enjoying masochistic sex, showing that there’s no one way to be a feminist. Relatable, accessible and thoroughly enjoyable, this read is a refreshing alternative to other, stuffy academic literature. 

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde

Describing herself as a ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,’ Audre Lorde has become one of the most authentic figures of the 20th century by embracing each aspect of her identity. In her 1984 essay collection Sister Outsider, she treats various subjects that have long been the center of her journey as a writer and activist: the meaning of poetry, the power of the erotic, and, most importantly, the necessity of intersectional politics that address and acknowledge racism, sexism, classism, ageism and homophobia at the very same time. Brutal and unapologetic, moving and graceful, these essays and notes display the very brilliance of a woman who fought hard for liberation. 

Too Black, Too Strong – Benjamin Zephaniah 

As one of the most outspoken, charming and enthralling voices of British poetry, Benjamin Zephaniah effortlessly captures the core of what it means to be Black in the modern world. This 2001 collection in particular is one that confronts the realities of societal inequality in a hard-hitting, candid manner albeit with a flair of dark humour. What‘s more, despite being published just shy of twenty years ago, this is a book that still feels chillingly apt in the current political climate.  

by Alex Gibbon, Safi Bugel and Sabrina Martins

Image Credit: Getty Images