Looking for something incredible to read this Black History Month? Here are 6 empowering and inspiring books for black women, by black women.
The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America, Tamara Winfrey Harris
“What’s wrong with black women? Not a damned thing” is Tamara Winfrey Harris’ honest and powerful affirmation that challenges every stereotype, inaccurate portrayal, and caricature of our existence–and it’s the basis of her aptly titled work, The Sisters Are Alright. Henry tackles America’s perception of Black women as it pertains to marriage, motherhood, sexuality, beauty and womanhood as a whole, as well as the stereotypes and depictions that shaped these ideas over the years. It’s a jarring and much-needed look into how even the most unbelievable characterizations of Black women can be passed off as truths if presented to the public long enough.
Why It’s A Must Read: This book is not a sob story meant to encase you in the struggle and frustrations of Black women. Instead, it’s an informative and educational piece on why it’s important to use courage and self-love to reclaim and reconstruct the image the world has created of you, and turn it into something genuine and true.
For a lot of us, our introduction to Ntozake Shange was the Tyler Perry adaptation of her critically acclaimed book, “For Colored Girls”. The harrowing story was originally written as a choreopoem (a way of storytelling that uses a combination of poetry, song, and dance) that consisted of 20 separate, but interconnected poems detailing their experiences with love, loss, abortion, suicide, and abuse. The women in the story are never fully characterized. Instead, they are defined by the various woes of life and brought together by the support found in their unofficial sisterhood.
Why It’s A Must Read: For Colored Girls really drives home the idea that Black women carry an incredible strength that is only made stronger with the love and support of our fellow woman. Black women being there for each other during difficult times and still being there to celebrate wins is a powerful message to convey.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae
Before Issa Rae was a writer, actress, and creator of HBO’s hit show Insecure, she was an awkward Black girl–and she wrote a book about it. This hilariously offbeat memoir details almost every defining, and completely cringe-worthy, moment she’s had on her way to embracing her quirks. From dealing with annoying questions about her newly natural hair, to feeling like the only Black girl on the planet whose twerk looks like struggle, Issa provides somewhat of a safe space for black women who can relate all too well. It’s witty, yes, but still very well rounded; She also covers how divorce affected her family, what it’s like to have a blend of cultural heritage, and how she navigated relationships in her younger years.
Why It’s A Must Read: Issa Rae’s approach to storytelling is nothing short of bright and creative because she knows when to make you bend over in laughter, and when to tug directly at your heartstrings. It’s both a memoir and an ode to all of us who are a little weird on the inside.
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
Peecola Breedlove is a young, dark skinned Black girl who desperately hopes and prays that one day she’ll be given blonde hair, blue eyes, and light skin in order to escape the inevitable self-hate that comes with being consistently mocked and ostracized by her predominately-White community. The story follows Breedlove on a journey through great adversity and pain, shining a light on what happens when abuse and internalized-racism goes unchecked.
Why It’s A Must Read: As Black women, the story forces us to confront the beliefs we hold about how much value and beauty we see in ourselves; how much of what we value and what we find beautiful comes from a source that never honored us in the first place. It’s relatable to some women on different levels, but offers itself as a starting point for all Black women to question the foundation from which their womanhood was built.
This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jerkins
What does it mean to exist as a a Black woman in America? Harlem-based author Morgan Jerkins dives deep into the question–and the intricacies of its answer–in This Will Be My Undoing. A combination of personal experience and intelligent observation, Jerkins puts forth a compelling analysis on feminism, pop culture, misogyny, and racism as it relates to Black women.
Why It’s A Must Read: This book offers insight into how other Black women navigate a world that is constructed in a way that, often times, oppresses and forgets us. It’s honest, smart, engaging, and a lot closer to having a conversation about the issues with your homegirl than it is to sitting in a lecture–which makes it a very relatable read.
Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks On Love and Life, Kim McLarin
At this point, we are well-aware that being a Black woman sometimes comes with a little more push and pull than we’d like to deal with. Our experiences tend to be very similar, but our personal stories are still richly diverse and individualistic; While Kim McLarin’s tale is one that is on a par with many other middle-aged Black women in present-day America, she writes about subjects such as online dating, mental health, and sexism from a refreshingly brilliant and bold perspective.
Why It’s A Must Read: Kim McLarin’s truths hit very tender and easily bruised spots (like our egos!) whether we are ready to feel it or not. She’s a grown woman offering other grown women some clarity, honesty, and a way to cut through the disappointment and find some relief in the learned lesson.