February is Black History Month. The event finds its origins in 1915, after the abolishment of slavery in the US, when the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent, was established.
According to history.com,
“Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme.
The Black History Month 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.”
Writing has always had a way of unveiling layers of meaning, beyond the surface written word. It is an effective story-telling tool that captures the nuances and subtexts that may not be immediately apparent or as easily understood in the real world. It is no wonder that it continues to be such a powerful tool wielded by many to tell a story.
While we cannot claim to fully empathise with the Black identity and the racism they face, we do want to strive for a greater understanding of their culture, representation and diversity — to better understand the origins of their struggles and how these struggles may persist in various forms today. This broader understanding of the world allows us to navigate it as more well-informed, sensitive and responsible individuals.
Find below a recommended reading list curated by our Literature Advocate, Ms Sarah Lim, for Black History Month 2021.
Fiction and Non-Fiction Books
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, Isabel Wilkerson
The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett
Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X
How To Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
Cane, Jean Toomer
The Langston Hughes Reader, Langston Hughes
The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
Poor, Caleb Femi
Citizen, An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine