The books Lancs students should read for Black History Month

Here are our suggestions to educate yourself and support black authors this month!

It’s finally October, the perfect month to curl up with a book and watch the leaves fall. So why not read something a little more diverse? It’s Black History Month, a month where we observe and celebrate all that people of African and Caribbean descent have done to shape our world and our culture.

Reading opens up a whole new world of understanding, especially when reading from the point of view of the people you hope to empower. Black History Month is a time for us to support the black community, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, and one way to support black authors is to buy their books.

There’s a big lack of diversity in the publishing industry, and black authors aren’t winning as many prizes or being given the same opportunities. So by reading their books you are supporting and engaging with them, showing the demand for books by black authors; and hopefully propelling them and the publishing industry into better times.

We asked Lancaster students to tell us what their favourite books written by black authors are and we’ve compiled a list of them here for you.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (2020)

Sarah, a third year creative writing student, said: “This book is a great read as it exposes the ways in which society has failed black women. It will definitely challenge your world view as it raises several questions about society.”

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2011)

Rosa, a first year politics and international relations student, told us that: “It clearly explains how structural racism works and its history, amazing to help people build up strong arguments in order to fight racism!!!” The sub-title for this book is “A Brief History of Mankind” so this may even be a good book to read about all cultures and people.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017)

Meg, a third year psychology student, one of the many who recommended this book, said that: “It’s such an informative and brilliant book. I’d consider it an essential read and would recommend it to anyone who wants to educate themselves on the major problems with race in the UK.”

Alanah, a third year media and cultural studies student, said: “It raises the issue of our access to black history and discusses the neglected history of the slave trade in our education system.” Reni Eddo-Lodge also has a podcast called “About Race” on Spotify.

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga (2016)

Daisy, a second year law student, said: “This book served as a reminder of how influential Britain was in the slave trade, and how even in abolishing slavery, there was so much opposition. One of the things the book also noted was how a lot of us haven’t been taught about the presence of black Tudors and the lack of recognition towards black soldiers who fought in both world wars.”

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad (2020)

Alanah also strongly recommends giving this book a read. They said: “This books aims to make you feel uncomfortable in order for you to combat racism and understand the white privilege and supremacy. It acts as a guide to coming to terms with your privilege. I found this an easy read because of the actual layout of the book.”

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (2001)

This is a book recommendation for those of you who may prefer to a fiction book revolving around black protagonists. Now a TV series, one student (who wishes to remain anonymous) recommends this pentalogy and says: “It’s just one of those series that makes you think about the status quo which is pretty important for fiction to do – especially at a YA level.”

Additionally, if you’re a fan of Malorie Blackman, Richard, a third year creative writing student, recommends watching the 2018 Doctor Who episode “Rosa”, which was written by Blackman and centres around the historic figure of Rosa Parks.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)

Nicole, a third year theatre student, said: “I read this a while back and it really struck me. It’s written from a child’s point of view and seeing how she learns about racism and how her world works was quite heart wrenching.”  This is the sequel to Taylor’s Song of the Trees (so maybe read that one first if you’re interested).

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (2019)

A personal favourite of mine, one student (who wishes to remain anonymous) states: “This novel is quite light hearted but also tackles the issues a black woman might face in the UK. The characters are likeable and relatable, it’s a difficult book to put down.”

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014)

Katie, a third year English student, said: “One of my favourites because it was really interesting reading about Ugandan culture, and she went to Lancaster!” New culture and our beloved university, what more could you want?

This Will be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins (2018)

This book is a collection of critical essays with commentary on feminism, misogyny, and so on. One student ( who wishes to remain anonymous) highly recommends this book and said: “I love this book because Morgan Jerkins opens up about her personal experiences as a black woman in America while also giving an insightful commentary on misogyny and racism.”

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (2019)

A student who wishes to remain anonymous said: “A black girl romance? I’m here for it!” There are not enough romances, be it cinematic or literary, that centre around BAME leads. This one does! If you’re looking for more of a relaxed read, this is for you! If you love it, “Take a Hint”, “Dani Brown” and “Act Your Age, Eve Brown” are its equally quirky sequels.

Pet by Akwaeke Emenzi (2019)

Meg, a third year creative writing student, who read this book recently and adored it, said: “Just wonderful – it also has a trans main character and a non-binary character.” This would be a good pick for anyone interested in reading about a black LGBTQ+ protagonist. How do you fight a problem in a world that is in denial?

So there you have it, The Lancaster Tab’s official Black History Month reading list. Happy reading!

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