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Books & Authors, Diverse Voices

10 Books About the Black Experience Beyond Race

With Black History Month having just come to an end, what better time is there to celebrate books by Black authors and continue the quest to build an antiracist society? Just as Tarana Burke wrote in her book, "You Are Your Best Thing": "I don't believe your antiracist work is complete or valid or useful if you haven't engaged with Black humanity." Whether you've just started exploring more work by diverse authors or are already familiar with some of these names, here are 10 books that examine the Black experience in its full scope. 


All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M Johnson
In a series of personal essays, journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. This young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys. Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color.

Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
For as long as she could remember, Ashley has put her father on a pedestal. Despite having only vague memories of his presence, she believes they're the only ones who understand each other. There are just a few problems: he's in prison, and she doesn't know what he did to end up there. From one of the most prominent voices of our generation comes a memoir that speaks to the path we must take to both honor and overcome our origins.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, he was robbed of all memory of her--but gifted a mysterious power. When Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life and from it comes a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he's ever known. Written by one of today's most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan
Loretha Curry's life is full. True, she's carrying a few more pounds than she should be, but she's not one of those women who thinks her best days are behind her, and she's determined to prove everyone with that outdated view of aging wrong. But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha will have to summon all her strength, resourcefulness, and determination to keep on thriving, pursue joy, heal old wounds and chart new paths.

More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth
Welteroth shares the profound lessons and struggles of being a barrier-breaker across so many intersections. She's had enough of the world telling her--and all women--they're not enough. In this memoir-manifesto, the revolutionary editor who infused social consciousness into the pages of Teen Vogue explores what it means to come into your own--on your own terms.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
Unable to celebrate the holidays in the wake of his older brother's death in a gang-related shooting, Lolly Rachpaul struggles to avoid being forced into a gang himself while constructing a fantastically creative LEGO city at the Harlem community center. This novel paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge--of adolescence, of grief, of violence--and shows how Lolly's inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors.

Black Boy Joy by Kwame Mbalia
Seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors have come together to create a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood. From picking out a fresh outfit for the first day of school to saving the universe, learn what it means to experience Black Boy Joy.

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Facing an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions. In a story that evokes the blues, Baldwin has given America a moving portrayal of love in the face of injustice.

Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays by Phoebe Robinson
Written in Phoebe's unforgettable voice and with her unparalleled wit, Robinson's latest collection, laced with spot-on pop culture references, takes on a wide range of topics. From the values she learned from her parents, to travel, dating, Black excellence and more, each essay is packed with humor and humanity that looks at our current cultural moment and will stay with you for years to come.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison's Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and in the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself Beloved--the same name engraved on her child's tombstone--Sethe's terrible secret explodes into the present.


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