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Black History Month Booklist

Throughout February this year, we chose one book per week by Black thinkers that have shaped our understandings of gender justice in important ways. These four books are making Black history and forging Black futures by pushing conversations around feminism and gender-based violence forward, informing our understanding of relevant intersections in ways we may not have thought about before. We’ve put these together as a short annotated book list, complete with some of our favourite passages from these brilliant writers – including one for our Francophone readers! The Possibility Seeds team has also collaboratively built a list of 25 more great reads at the bottom, to keep you going far beyond February.

"There can be no love without justice" - bell hooks, All About Love

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

We want to start by honouring bell hooks, who we lost this past year and whose impact on Black feminist theory and history was so profound. hooks’ works are so prolific, but we love All About Love for its centering of relationship and community. It’s a beautiful and tender read that puts love at the centre of our movements.

“We are glowing with rage, the kind that can shatter glass ceilings and scorch the earth. We are emotional with grief, with tears that can flood oceans and put out blazing fires. We are soft with compassion, yet powerful enough to dissolve borders."

They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis

Eternity Martis’ memoir, They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up, is a must-read for anyone in higher education and a powerful piece of Black feminist literature in Canada. In a beautiful coming-of-age read, Martis recounts her experiences of misogynoir and gender-based violence on a predominantly white campus; and how she found power in connection with other women of colour, and in the act of telling her story. This book is a rallying cry for survivors and all marginalized voices to resist being silenced.

You can watch Eternity’s National Skillshare event with Courage to Act here!

Empreintes de résistance: Filiations et récits de femmes autochtones, noires et racisées par Alexandra Pierre

Nous célébrons les récits et les parcours de résistance de 9 femmes qui ont livré des témoignages rassemblés sous la plume d’Alexandra Pierre dans « Empreintes de résistance : Filiations et récits de femmes autochtones, noires et racisées ». Ancrés dans l’histoire et le vécu respectif de chacune de ces femmes, les récits qui composent l’ouvrage ont néanmoins une valeur universelle, puisqu’ils permettent de nous élever et démontrent toute l’importance de centrer les questions raciales et coloniales dans les luttes féministes, et, tout particulièrement en ce qui nous concerne, dans la lutte contre la violence genrée.

“Self-love [...] must be the driving force behind our continued struggle; otherwise, we become [...] fixated on always challenging how we see our bodies and never getting to the place where we no longer have to interrogate our bodies at all.”

Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da’Shaun Harrison

Our last feature this month was Da’Shaun Harrison’s Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness. Harrison connects their lived experience in a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans body to a structural analysis of desirability politics and “health,” and how these interact with sexual and state violence. In a groundbreaking theoretical intervention, they urge us beyond an individualistic framework and make an abolitionist call to uproot the systems that perpetuate injustice through the body.

Other Books We Love

To keep you going all year round, here are 25 more reads, both classic and new, by Black authors to inform your gender justice work:

  1. Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke

  2. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

  3. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

  4. Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

  5. Hunger: a Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

  6. The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor

  7. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

  8. Policing Black Lives by Robyn Maynard

  9. Volcaniques : Une anthologie du plaisir sous la direction de Léonora Miano

  10. Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks

  11. Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis

  12. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

  13. Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings

  14. Inventory: Poems by Dionne Brand

  15. We Will Not Cancel Us: and Other Forms of Transformative Justice by Adrienne Maree Brown

  16. Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good by Adrienne Maree Brown

  17. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown

  18. Assata: an Autobiography by Assata Shakur

  19. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

  20. Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction by Sami Schalk

  21. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

  22. You Can’t Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

  23. The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses by Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí

  24. On Intersectionality: Essential Writings by Kimberlé Crenshaw

  25. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Happy reading!

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Suggested Reference : Courage to Act. (2022, February). Black History Month Booklist. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/bhm-booklist.

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