Decades ago Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and there are years that answer.” Certainly, 2016 is a year that answers, responding to questions that have been posed for centuries. Heightened racial violence and xenophobia remind us of why it it imperative to continue resisting, teaching, writing and working cooperatively to restructure our world into one rooted in equity and balance. We must be uncompromising about reaching this end goal because we have learned the hard way that reform is merely a bandaid. Here are five book recommendations to help you to maintain your strength and momentum as we embark upon revolutionary times.
The Parable of Talents, Octavia Butler
“All that you touch you change. All that you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is change.”
This post-apocalyptic masterpiece is a cautionary tale about the fall of western society at the hands of oppressive global powers.
Octavia Butler weaves themes such as race, religion and resistance to tell the story of Lauren Olamina, who decides to build an intentional community after experiencing several spiritual visions that reinterpret the concept of God and human purpose. The Parable of Talents is more than a good sci-fi read; Butler’s work is prophetic, providing a roadmap to reimagine society in the midst of chaos and destruction. Definitely a must-read!
The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon
This book is an indictment of colonialism and its use as a psychological weapon. This revolutionary text deconstructs the inner workings of the mind of the colonized individual and emphasizes the importance of understanding colonization as a sickness in order to initiate a path to healing, revolution, and liberation.
Fanon also challenges the concept of non-violence when combating colonial forces, stating that “Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon.”
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Joy DeGruy
This book is a combination of exhaustive research and personal anecdotes reflecting the depth of black pain while providing a pathway for liberation rooted in truth-telling about the Black American experience.
DeGruy connects concepts like cognitive dissonance and collective trauma to white supremacy, and explains how our country’s sinister history has not only wounded Black Americans, but the nation as a whole.
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
The words of this book are quietly powerful and provide a meditation on race relations in America with the grace that only James Baldwin could accomplish.
This text explores concepts of inner power, strength and grace in the midst of hatred and oppression. Baldwin excavates the soul of oppression, providing readers with power and resolve to continue resisting while living in the underbelly of an oppressive government.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
“Anything I do today, I regard as urgent.” –-Malcolm X
Almost 50 years after his assassination, The Autobiography of Malcolm X continues to serve as a cornerstone text for black liberation But this book is more than just a revolutionary text — it provides insight not only into racial pride, but also self-discovery and a human being’s capacity to evolve.
It is also indicative of the capacity of education and inquiry to transform human consciousness. Malcolm’s story teaches us that if your mind is free and your words are true, your legacy can be infinite.