From the Bookshelf /Black History Month Reading List: The Best Books This February

BY ADONIS SMITH

There is a saying that you learn something new every day, and this is especially true in the month of February. The month of February is known for many things and one of them is Black History Month. Black History Month holds the key to prominent people throughout history who have made a difference in the world and some of them are authors. These authors shed some light on how Black people have been treated.

BulletproofBulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair

By Lisa Jones

Bulletproof Diva was published in 1994, and expresses how to embody your black identity as a biracial woman who was raised by white parents. Jones expresses the culture of a black female, who was then a columnist for the Village Voice. In Bulletproof Diva, is a collection of essays, and most of which were culled, at least in part, from her Voice column (Skin Trade), Jones, who is the daughter of white feminist author Hettie Jones and the late radical black poet Amari Baraka (formerly Leroi Jones), who writes about gender, race, political activism and hair. Observant, thoughtful and self-aware, she succeeds in offering up very personal stories about her identity as a biracial, black- woman.

GorillaGorilla, My Love

By Toni Cade Bambara

A prominent figure during the black arts movement, Toni Cade Bambara was an extraordinary thinker, feminist, editor and fiction writer. In her debut collection of stories, 1972’s Gorilla, My Love, she introduced us to a series of young black girls, all resonating with voice. Bright-minded and spunky, their first-person narratives wonderfully capture the sound of black speech. The title story takes place at a movie theater, where Hazel has gone to see a film called Gorilla, My Love with her older brother and his friend Hunca Bubba, with whom she is secretly, hopelessly in love. That feeling – the agony of being too young to hang, and the belief you might never get to grow up – is a recurring theme. Bambara captures her characters and their environments with a film-maker’s touch and a mother’s empathy. She’s wise enough to have learned that everyone grows up, and to remember a time when she hadn’t.

KindrerdKindred

By Octavia Butler

Butler’s novels are both visionary and philosophical and help us understand oppression. In Kindred, Butler allows us to experience the lives of heroes and villains and gives us the ability to understand things we cannot, while trying to allow us to reach a kind of equity in existence. In Kindred, Dana, a modern California woman of the 20th century, is transported back to the 19th century; meeting her white (slave-owner) and black ancestors and in the process, she witnesses vulgar realities of plantation life. There are no explanations of how she is summoned back in time, but this peculiar phenomenon begins on her 26th birthday, weeks before the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This story is haunting, brutal yet brilliant because it asks the reader to confront the harsh truths about family and American identity and the legacy of slavery in society.