By: Trischan Laing //
Books have always been my best friends. I am yet to learn how to ride a bike, climb a tree, or, any of the many skills a normal child acquires during childhood. I would spend hours reading Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, the newspaper, the Bible, traffic signs, just about anything I could find. What I noticed however is that none of the books that I read as a child were written by people who looked like me. Our experiences and obstacles were not the same and I had a hard time relating to them.
Now, I ensure that I incorporate books by Black authors, Black women in particular. Because you see as a woman, making your voice heard in a room saturated with testosterone is quite difficult. But as a Black woman, it is twice as hard, monstrous even.
And so for my development, it was critical to learn from women just like myself. I believe their experiences have influenced my perspective and I’d love to share these books with you.
1. Becoming – Michelle Obama
I’ll start with the most obvious book on this list. Michelle Obama is the G.O.A.T. for Black women. She embodies a successful Black woman who isn’t forced to make herself small just so her partner can feel empowered. It is easy to believe that people with a certain height of success were born that way. But what I loved about her book is that she spoke about their crappy apartment, her career uncertainty and, many other circumstances that were familiar to me. It was down to earth and reminded me that I don’t need to have generational wealth to break the glass ceiling and be successful.
2. The Girl Who Smiled Beads – Clemantine Wamariya
It’s easy to be ungrateful and think that your life is the worst if you lack perspective. This book is written by a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. She takes you on a journey from one refugee camp to the next. But, I’m happy that she did not stop there. We often forget how difficult it is for refugees to settle into their new homes. She spoke about adjusting in America and the challenges that came with accepting a new normal and feeling safe. I also hate change and new environments but her book has encouraged me to embrace it.
3. So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
Segregation and racism are rooted in most Western societies. But, growing up in Jamaica, the experiences of my parents were much different than the American experience. Because Jamaica is predominantly made up of Black people, we didn’t have “Whites only” bars and racially fueled police brutality. Ijeoma compares and contrasts these historical events with the current injustices of Black people in America. It was definitely an eye-opener and a really great read.
4. Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
I was what you would call a “Negative Nancy”. I seldom agree to do anything, I just wanted to stay home and be left alone. And to my surprise, this was not an uncommon trait. But this book has changed my outlook as we often miss out on amazing opportunities and memories because we think it’s too difficult or just the anxiety with trying something new. I’m still not completely an eager ray of sunshine but saying yes allowed me to develop new skills, friendships and it opened doors that would’ve remained closed. Thanks, Shonda!
5. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book was my absolute favorite. I loved it so much that I had to read it twice. It speaks about the little misogynistic things that happen throughout our daily lives which we have grown so accustomed to. I read this book with my partner, as I believe it is important for both men and women to recognize these character flaws to fix them. It is concise and defines what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century. I highly recommend this book especially for Black women who are in the process of finding themselves. It offers direction and much-needed insight.
Every time I pick up a book, I do a quick Google search to see who the author is and I always beam with pride when it is a Black woman. These books have inspired me to be the best version of myself and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to inspire other black women through my writing. I hope you’ll add these to your list and do let me know what books have been keeping you company during this pandemic!