Each year since 1976, the President of the United States has officially designated February Black History Month. It’s designed as an opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavour throughout American (British & Canadian) history.
Black History Month has always sparked debates about dedicating one month to the history of one race and I’ve usually been agreeing with actor Morgan Freeman who once said: “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” For me Black History Month always seemed to divide Americans into two groups – us and them – too much.
The reason I’m even promoting Black History Month on my blog this year are current political events all around the world. We experience a lot of changes now, changes that weaken democracy, while promoting right wing populism and the dominance of global markets. Minorities like women, immigrants, refugees etc. are increasingly refused access to their fundamental and human rights.
This is a clear sign that at the current moment we NEED to call attention to accomplishments of a certain race despite the danger of notional and linguistical separation.
For me, great accomplishments always include books so here are 5 feminist classics from and about black women to add to your TBR List in honour of Black History Month.
# 1: Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
While actually exploring the roots of Lorde’s intellectual development and her deep concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers you can find inspirational and empowering quotes and statements in this collection of 15 essays. If you struggle with fighting for your rights, or Trumps speeches make you feel like you’ve already lost, open this book. Lorde’s got you covered! “Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.”
# 2: Black Feminist Thought – Patricia Hill Collins
Black Feminist Thought demonstrates Black women’s emerging power as agents of knowledge. Drawing from oral history, interviews, music, poetry, fiction, and scholarly literature, Hill proposes to illuminate black women’s standpoint giving a good overview over important black, feminist works. This book works well for those interested in theories of generation of knowledge and point of view.
# 3: Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism – bell hooks
The book “Ain’t I a Woman” is not to be confused with the famous speech delivered by Sojourner Truth a well-known anti-slavery speaker. You can watch that here.
Instead American writer, feminist and activist bell hooks examines the impact of sexism on black women during slavery, the historic devaluation of black womanhood, black male sexism, racism within the recent women’s movement, and black women’s involvement with feminism.
Tipp: This book is especially great when you read it at the same time as Sister Outsider!
# 4: This Bridge called my Back – Cherrié Moraga
This Bridge Called My Back is a combination of essays, theory, fiction and poetry written by women of colour. It’s confusing at first, a wild bundle of seemingly hastily thrown together topic, voices and styles, but you’ll soon find yourself following the red thread: Revolution. Every essay, every poem has it this aura of resistance and renewal.
# 5: Women, Race and Class – Angela Y. Davis
This book centres around the still highly important concept of intersectional feminism.
Don’t know what this is? There is no better book to find out! Just to give you an idea though: Intersectional Feminisms focuses on the intersection over more than one category of discrimination like gender, race and class and highlights how they factor into inequality.