|Photo credit: Heather Hoppe|
1. The Black Woman: This anthology of writing by and about black women during the 1970s is a really poignant and interesting look at the politics of black identity and its intersections with female identity. It delves into the areas where the feminist and black power movements butted heads and how black women found themselves doubly in trouble if they wanted to fight for their own rights. A must-read for anyone interested in racial justice.
2. White Like Me by Tim Wise: I read this autobiography at the same time as reading The Black Woman and it was fascinating to read these two in tandem. Tim Wise writes about how white privilege buttressed his life story and through his writing instructs white folks on how privilege and how to look at racism not through a faux-color blind lens. Though I'm not white, I found it very interesting to examine my own privilege in racial justice as an Asian American and also to see the technique of looking at one's personal narrative in terms of racial justice/oppression.
3. Of Blood and Fire by Jahanara Imam: Even if you've not read anything about Bangladesh before, this autobiography written in diary format by Jahanara Imam really brings you into the struggle for independence in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. The author brings you into a very personal side of it - not a preachy, immediately accepting one. She shows the war for what it was: a complicated and confusing time where bloodshed was all too real, even if you were in support of the general movement. Very interesting, and heartbreaking.
4. Torch by Cheryl Strayed: And now for something completely different - I read this novel by Cheryl Strayed (who has recently outed herself as the writer of my favorite advice column, Dear Sugar) because I had fallen in love with her writing style and wanted to read more. This book is heartbreaking. And I loved it. It details the aftermath of a working class family losing its mother to cancer, and how everyone's lives went on. What I loved the most is that the characters were very real - no one was completely a hero, nor was there anyone you could pin down as evil/completely unlikeable for their actions. They were just people, which made this book very painful, but satisfying.
5. "She Had Some Horses" by Joy Harjo: I don't read a lot of poetry, but when Racialicious suggested reading this one, I melted. Right then and there. It's impossible to talk about all the themes that this poem contains, but they are multitudinous and they hit my heart when I read them the first time. And the second. And the third. Check it out at the link right away.