- The Black Lives Matter movement focuses on several serious topics like police reform and inequality.
- But activists say that the movement should also highlight Black joy and success.
- Book review website Goodreads compiled a list of 96 books that celebrate Black joy.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Black History Month is an important time to educate yourself on the Black experience in America.
The Black Lives Matter movement is raising awareness around several serious topics: police reform, over-incarceration, inequality in education, racism in the workplace, discrimination in the health system, to name a few.
But that’s only part of the story.
“The other part about Black Lives Matter that I think people miss is Black joy and Black liberation,” Genisha Metcalf, a 35-year-old mother of two and Black Lives Matter activist told Insider in August.
Book review website Goodreads recently compiled a list of 96 books on Black joy, which includes titles in fantasy, romance, science fiction, and essay collections. Here are nine memoirs by Black authors that highlight other sides of the Black experience.
This article was originally published in August 2020.
Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital and one of the few queer Black women in venture capital, shares her story about how she went from living on food stamps to breaking into the boy’s club of Silicon Valley. Hamilton’s story challenges the conventional narrative of what it takes to become successful.
“Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes
American TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes is the force behind top hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” In this bestseller, she shares her story of a one-year experiment when she said “Yes” to new opportunities and challenges. Her story is a call for people to get outside their comfort zone and try new things.
“The Light of the World,” by Elizabeth Alexander
In “The Light of the World,” Pulitzer prize finalist and poet Elizabeth Alexander recounts the sudden death of her husband and her journey from grief to hope. Former First Lady Michelle Obama called the book “magnificent.”
“Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of loss, which confers meaning to loss,” Alexander writes.
“The Pretty One,” by Keah Brown
Keah Brown, who has cerebral palsy, recounts her journey from self-hate to self-love in “The Pretty One.” Brown explains how she went from wanting to be “normal,” to accepting herself, and then celebrating her difference in creating the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute.
“Dressed in Dreams,” by Tanisha Ford
In “Dressed in Dreams,” Tashina Ford uses pieces of fashion to tell her coming-of-age story as a Black woman. Ford, a history professor at The City University of New York, explains how the personal is political with each fashion story: from how wearing the wrong color can lead to gang violence to the appropriation of Black culture in today’s society.
“More Than Enough,” by Elaine Welteroth
Elaine Welteroth, editor in chief of Teen Vogue, tells her story of climbing the ranks in the world of media and fashion, sharing the valuable life lessons about race and gender she learned along the way.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says the book “is a guide for young people who want to find their voice, a crash course for those who want to challenge the status quo, and an adventure story for all of us.”
“Mind and Matter,” by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas
In this bestselling book, John Urschel tells his incredible story of how he pursued and obtained his PhD in mathematics at MIT while he was an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. His story talks about the importance of ignoring self-limiting doubt.
“The Warner Boys,” by Ana and Curt Warner
Former NFL Seahawks star Curt Warner and his wife, Ana, took a step back from the public in the 1990s. Their two youngest sons, twins Austin and Christian, had been diagnosed with autism, which they decided to keep secret for years. In this memoir, the couple talks about going from self-isolation and fear to a place of peace and advocacy.
“Black Girls Rock!” by Beverly Bond
In 2006, model and DJ Beverly Bond founded “Black Girls Rock!” an awards show that celebrates Black women in entertainment, entrepreneurship, and more. In this book, Bond recounts starting the awards show and presents a collection of essays from a mix of powerful Black women, including actress Kerry Washington, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and tennis champion Serena Williams.
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