Like most of you, I have been disgusted by our country’s racial disparities brought to light by George Floyd’s murder. In an effort to do something, I decided to READ. I spent hours building a list of anti-racist literature to read, ordered books from Eyeseeme (a local African American bookstore), and then didn’t read anything.
I just wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction (yes, I know, my white privilege is showing and I’m ashamed of it). Eventually, I decided to seek out fiction written by Black, female authors. That was a good call as it got me over my reading recession. In the last month, I’ve read Red at the Bone, American Spy, Such a Fun Age, Homegoing, and The Black Kids (YA, August 4 pub date). All great, all highly recommended (I’m hoping to get over my writing slump and get reviews of those books posted soon). I took the anthology, Well-Read Black Girl, with me on a recent camping trip and it proved to be just what I needed to transition me from fiction to non-fiction.
For those of you that don’t know, Well-Read Black Girl started out as an Instagram account where creator, Glory Edim, posted quotes from influential black novelists and poets as well as archival photos from the Black Arts movement. WRBG exploded into a source of reading recommendations and inspiration, into a nationwide book club, and into a “one-of-a-kind literary festival . . . entirely focused on Black women writers.” Inspired by the community she created on Instagram, Edim posed this question to twenty-one Black women writers: “When did you first see yourself in literature?” Their answers became the essays Edim curated into this anthology. Through these women’s essays, readers see the importance of children seeing themselves in literature. The anthology is both a tribute to the storytellers who influenced the authors and inspiration to readers to seek out and find the literature they need in their lives. I kept thinking of the Rudine Sims Bishop’s mantra of “mirrors and windows” (incidentally, a concept that drives the way I approach librarianship) as I read.
We all need books in our lives that are both MIRRORS of ourselves and WINDOWS into the worlds of others.
Warning: your to-read list is going to be really long after reading Well-Read Black Girl (it includes a list of every book mentioned by the essayists)! Below is a link to WRBG's list of recommended books from their Instagram account:
Reading isn't going to stop racism, but IT'S A PLACE WHERE EVERYONE CAN START.