Even in Europe, it’s hard to miss what’s currently going on in the United States. I’ve seen the video of George Floyd’s murder, I’ve seen videos of peaceful protests that are not reported by media, and I’ve seen videos of the police harming peaceful protestors. George Floyd is one name among the many who have suffered under police brutality, and this horror is part of systematic racism that BIPOC have to deal with on a daily basis.
As a White European, it’s easy to say that racism is something that ‘happens in the US’, but that’s wilful ignorance. In my own country, the Netherlands, there is racism. It’s different from the US, but it’s there. That said, sharing my outrage and creating awareness on Instagram stories is, though imporant, easy. Signing a list of petitions and donating is also important, but easy. And yet I look at my bookshelves, and see there are primarily White authors — reading a lot of fantasy is no excuse. My list of posted reviews? Same story. Furthermore, I know very little of the racism of even my own country.
I want to do better, and I want to educate myself. I decided to post a list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, by Black authors that I’ll be checking out. This not only amplifies Black voices, but might also be helpful to others who want to educate themselves and widen their perspectives. My intention is to also review more diversely in the future.
Don’t get me wrong: reading and reviewing a few books and watching a documentary or two doesn’t mean that I’ll be done, but I figured it’s a good place to start.
I’ve tried to summarize what these books are about in one or two sentences. However, I haven’t read most of them yet, so I’ve also linked their respective GoodReads entries.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Exploring a wide range of issues of race in the UK.
How to Be Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi talks about different issues to discuss how an antiracist society might look like.
Hallo witte mensen (Hello White People) – Anousha Nzume
This book explores racism and White privilege in a Dutch context.
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race – Gloria Wekker
Another book about racism and colonialism in a Dutch context.
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas (YA contemporary)
About police brutality and #blacklivesmatter
Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann (YA contemporary, LGBT+)
About an asexual biromantic Black girl that explores emerging adulthood and friendship.
The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta (YA contemporary, LGBT+)
A coming-of-age about a mix-raced gay teen who learns to embrace his identity through poetry and drag.
Washington Black – Esi Edugyan (historical)
A historical book taking place in Canada about slavery.
Binti – Nnedi Okorafor (science fiction)
I actually did read this one recently, but I want to read the two sequels as well, so I’ve decided to mention it anyway. It’s about a young POC woman accepted at a prestigious university on another planet, but she has to deal with fellow humans not understanding her customs and wronged aliens before even getting there.
My Sister, the Serial Killer– Oyinkan Braithwaite (fiction)
About a woman who helps her sister, a serial killer, dispose of the bodies and remove the evidence. Until her sister has set her sights on a doctor she has fallen in love with.
Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis (fiction)
Two Greek gods grant human intelligence to a pack of dogs.
The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin (fantasy/science fiction)
This one is tough to summarize, but it’s about a dying world and a woman whose husband has murdered her son and kidnapped her daughter. To save her daughter, she must travel across a dangerous and hostile land.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. I will do further research, but feel free to share recommendations in the comments.