Book Reviews: A Focus on Black Authors
I stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and one of the ways I am showing my support to the black community is by reading more books by black authors to deepen and expand my understanding of racism and how to end it. Not only is it important to educate ourselves on this topic, it is also vital to show support to black authors who are massively under-represented in the publishing industry. Of the many books I have read so far, here are three that particularly resonated with me.
Natives by Akala
Born in London to a black father and white mother, hip-hop artist Akala writes about his experiences of racism in England, alongside sociological, political and cultural references which together provide an eclectic and impressive scope of knowledge. In prose that is both eloquent and witty, Akala examines race and class in England and the complex interplay between the two. He dismantles common myths and misconceptions that England upholds about race, at once providing the most rigorous account of the British empire I have read and illuminating the huge gaps in the pitifully lacking English education system. Natives is an all-encompassing guide to combat racism and is a book that I will return to again and again.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing begins in 18th century Ghana with two half-sisters Esi and Effia whose lives take completely different paths. Esi is sold as a slave and shipped to America to work on a plantation and Effia is married to an English soldier to live in the Cape Coast Castle. From here the novel traces both lineages and alternates between the two families, passing from character to character, resulting in a tapestry of stories spanning across generations and two continents. Each story is shaped to pave a painful trajectory from the slave trade to modern day America and how racism was and still is experienced. Homegoing is a powerful and brilliant work of fiction and I recommend it without reservation.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mikki Kendall’s searing collection of essays provides an uncomfortable and important read. She rips apart mainstream feminism and delivers a detailed insight into intersectional feminism and how we can do better as feminists, particularly in the fight against white supremacy. Too often, we are more concerned with increasing privileges for the few rather than attaining basic needs for the many. Feminist issues span the housing crisis, food insecurity and gun crime (to name a few) which particularly impact women of colour.
Kendall focuses on issues rooted in American society, many of which overlap with inequalities experienced all over the world. Hood Feminism brings to light how feminists in a position of privilege need to do more to include women from all demographics and I think this is a book that everyone should read.