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10 Revolutionary Must Reads By Black Women

10 Revolutionary Must Reads By Black Women

I have always found reading to be a revolutionary act. Seeking knowledge and authenticity within the power of Black narratives and testimonials has provided me with endless shelter throughout my life. The words of Sonia Sanchez have saved my life more than once. Sula awakened me in a moment of life where I thought I would never escape the grasp of my own demons. I grew up with the quote ringing in my ears:

“if you ever wanna hide something from a n*gga put it in a book”

I have come back to this statement over and over again, in times of great uncertainty and in times of dire need.

In the past couple of weeks, existing with the difficulty of all the consuming chaos in the world. Every day seems to erupt with the grief sitting in our Black bodies. Every day Black people across the globe are targeted, our pain unrecognizable to the outsider’s eye. Recently, I have taken to stillness. I have taken to the words of some of our most influential ancestors; Morrison, Bambara, Butler, Lorde, Hurston, Shange, Angelou. I have also found solace in the stories written by the delicate hands of today’s folklore queens, all of which are channeling the momentum of this movement, revitalizing our communities, and amplifying our healing.

Below you will find a list of book recommendations, all of which I have recently indulged within. Some of which I have naturally found my way back to at this current time. These books have encouraged me to seek a collective spirit, unify our message, and uplift our truths. We know who we are. Black people know what must be done to achieve our liberation. If you are uncertain at this moment, it lies within our collective memory. It is all archived within the pages of these relics.

  • Sula by Toni Morrison (1973)

  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (1993)

  • The Geometry of Being Black by Ogorchukwu (2018)

  • Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara (1980)

  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde (1984)

  • Wounded in The House of a Friend by Sonia Sanchez (1995)

  • If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar (2018)

  • Communion by bell hooks (2002)

  • Life as Activism by June Jordan (1989)

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston (1937)

Stories, books, and words of Black folks have the power to transcend us to new worlds of beauty and joy unknown to the human heart. These women are a testament to that transcendence. The power of black narratives is otherworldly. Giving ourselves over to their stories is an act of spirit. Toni Morrison said, “I believe that one of the principal ways in which we acquire, hold, and digest information is via narrative”. Storytellers are the paradigm shifters, the carriers of wisdom, the griots of grace and glory.

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For Black people, stories are our redemption, stories live in our blood. We carry them through our image as proof of our past and future. It is how we recall our truth. It is how we survived. Our stories need us right now, and we need right them back. 

Harriett’s Bookshop is a black-female-owned bookstore in Fishtown, Philadelphia. Their mission is to uphold the legacies of past and present authors, activists, and artists. Check out their website. They carry if not all, most of the books on this carefully crafted list. 

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