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Modern Black Writers

Celebrate Black voices this month and every month with these selections from modern Black non-fiction writers.

Guru by 1960- author RuPaul

A timeless collection of philosophies from renaissance performer and the world's most famous shape shifter RuPaul, whose sage outlook has created an unprecedented career for more than thirty-five years. This is packed with information that illustrate the concept of building the life listeners want from the outside in and the inside out

I tried to change so you don't have to : true life lessons by Loni Love

The Emmy Award-winning cohost of Fox's The Real and SiriusXM's Cafae Mocha presents a laugh-out-loud memoir about learning to resist the pressures of conformity while unlocking personal potential through self-acceptance.

Thick : and other essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

A collection of essays from the author of Lower Ed sheds light on the trait of being "thick," both in form and in substance, while dissecting society and culture from beauty to Obama to pumpkin-spice lattes

Invisible man, got the whole world watching : a young black man's education by Mychal Denzel Smith

An unflinching account of what it means to be a young black man in America today, and how the existing script for black manhood is being rewritten in one of the most fascinating periods of American history.

We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Hood feminism : notes from the women that a movement forgot by Mikki Kendall

"A collection of essays taking aim at the legitimacy of the modern feminist movement, arguing that it has chronically failed to address the needs of all but a few women"--

Begin again : James Baldwin's America and its urgent lessons for our own by Eddie S Glaude

"James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the Civil Rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. In the era of Trump, what can we learn from his struggle? "Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again." --James Baldwin We live, according to Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., in the after times, when the promise of Black Lives Matter and the attempt to achieve a new America were challenged by the election of Donald Trump, a racist president whose victory represents yet another failure of America to face the lies it tells itself about race. We have been here before: For James Baldwin, the after times came in the wake of the Civil Rights movement, when a similar attempt to compel a national confrontation with the truth was answered with the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In these years, spanning from the publication of The Fire Next Time in 1963 to that of No Name in the Street in 1972, Baldwin was transformed into a more overtly political writer, a change that came at great professional and personal cost.

Girl gurl grrrl : on womanhood and belonging in the age of black girl magic by Kenya Hunt

"From the Deputy Editor of Elle UK, a provocative and humorous collection of essays on what it means to be black, a woman, a mother and a global citizen in today's ever-changing world"--

Conversations in black : on power, politics, and leadership by Ed Gordon

Hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and inspiring, Conversations in Black offers sage wisdom for navigating race in a radically divisive America, and, with help from his mighty team of black intelligentsia, veteran journalist Ed Gordon creates hope and a timeless new narrative on what the future of black leadership should look like and how we can get there. In Conversations in Black, Gordon brings together some of the most prominent voices in Black America today, including Stacey Abrams, Harry Belafonte, Charlamagne tha God, Michael Eric Dyson, Alicia Garza, Jemele Hill, Iyanla VanZant, Eric Holder, Killer Mike, Angela Rye, Al Sharpton, TI and Maxine Waters, and so many more to answer questions about vital topics affecting our nation today, such as: Will the black vote control the 2020 election? Do black lives really matter? After the Obama's presidency, are black people better off? Are stereotypical images of people of color changing in Hollywood? How is "Black Girl Magic" changing the face of black America? Bombarded with media, music, and social media messages that enforce stereotypes of people of color, Gordon set out to dispel what black power and black excellence really looks like today and offers a way forward for all in a new age of black prosperity and pride

Wandering in strange lands : a daughter of the Great Migration reclaims her roots by Morgan Jerkins

"Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California. Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way—the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history. " --book jacket

For colored girls who have considered politics by Donna Brazile

The lives of black women in American politics are remarkably absent from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics is a sweeping view of American history from the vantage points of four women who have lived and worked behind the scenes in politics for over thirty years―Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore―a group of women who call themselves The Colored Girls. Like many people who have spent their careers in public service, they view their lives in four-year waves where presidential campaigns and elections have been common threads. For most of the Colored Girls, their story starts with Jesse Jackson’s first campaign for president. From there, they went on to work on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Toni Morrison book club by Juda Bennett

"What is a book club but an excuse to talk to friends? The Toni Morrison Book Club brings that experience to life by telling the story of four friends who turn to Toni Morrison as they search for meaning in their lives. In this startling group memoir, the writers--black and white, gay and straight, immigrant and American born--allow Morrison's words, like music, to make them feel, confess, and discover. The result is a collection of deeply personal conversations about everything from first love to Soul Train to police brutality, all told with an ever present lens on race in America. Not shying away from controversies, this book offers a radically new way to envision book clubs as a healing force in our lives. So pull up a chair and pour yourself a much needed glass of wine, as you get ready to experience the messy differences, surprising revelations, and restorative power of The Toni Morrison Book Club"--

The cooking gene : a journey through African American culinary history in the Old South by Michael Twitty

"A memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces the paths of the author's ancestors (black and white) through the crucible of slavery to show its effects on our food today"--

Dear Ijeawele, or, A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a childhood friend, a new mother who wanted to know how to raise her baby girl to be a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response: fifteen invaluable suggestions—direct, wryly funny, and perceptive—for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. Filled with compassionate guidance and advice, it gets right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century, and starts a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Black ink : literary legends on the peril, power, and pleasure of reading and writing

Spanning over 250 years of history, Black Ink traces black literature in America from Frederick Douglass to Ta-Nehisi Coates in this masterful collection of twenty-five illustrious and moving essays on the power of the written word. Throughout American history black people are the only group of people to have been forbidden by law to learn to read. This unique collection seeks to shed light on that injustice and subjugation, as well as the hard-won literary progress made, putting some of America's most cherished voices in a conversation in one magnificent volume that presents reading as an act of resistance. Organized into three sections, the Peril, the Power, and Pleasure, and with an array of contributors both classic and contemporary, Black Ink presents the brilliant diversity of black thought in America while solidifying the importance of these writers within the greater context of the American literary tradition. At times haunting and other times profoundly humorous, this unprecedented anthology guides you through the remarkable experiences of some of America's greatest writers and their lifelong pursuits of literacy and literature. The foreword was written by Nikki Giovanni. Contributors include: Frederick Douglass, Solomon Northup, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison, Walter Dean Myers, Stokely Carmichael [Kwame Ture], Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Terry McMillan, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Colson Whitehead. The anthology features a bonus in-depth interview with President Barack Obama

Well-read black girl : finding our stories, discovering ourselves : an anthology

"An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives--but not everyone regularly sees themselves on the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all--regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability--have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology). Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her book club-turned-online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves"--

The awkward thoughts of W. Kamau Bell : tales of a 6' 4", African American, heterosexual, cisgender, left-leaning, asthmatic, black and proud blerd, mama's boy, dad, and stand-up comedian by W Bell

After all this love and praise, it's time for the next step: a book. The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell is a humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling a wide range of issues, such as race relations; fatherhood; the state of law enforcement today; comedians and superheroes; right-wing politics; left-wing politics; failure; his interracial marriage; white men; his upbringing by very strong-willed, race-conscious, yet ideologically opposite parents; his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, then his later days struggling to find his comedic voice; why he never seemed to fit in with the black comedy scene...or the white comedy scene; how he was a black nerd way before that became a thing; how it took his wife and an East Bay lesbian to teach him that racism and sexism often walk hand in hand; and much, much more.

American like me : reflections on life between cultures

"From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures. America Ferrera has always felt wholly American, and yet, her identity is inextricably linked to her parents' homeland and Honduran culture. Speaking Spanish at home, having Saturday-morning-salsa-dance-parties in the kitchen, and eating tamales alongside apple pie at Christmas never seemed at odds with her American identity. Still, she yearned to see that identity reflected in the larger American narrative. Now, in American Like Me, America invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. However, they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all. Ranging from the heartfelt to the hilarious, their stories shine a light on a quintessentially American experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture, and growing up."--

Defining moments in Black history : reading between the lies by Dick Gregory

In this collection of thoughtful, provocative essays, Gregory charts the complex and often obscured history of the African American experience. In his unapologetically candid voice, he moves from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl, the enjoyment of bacon and everything pig, the headline-making shootings of black men, and the Black Lives Matter movement. A captivating journey through time, Defining Moments in Black History explores historical movements such as The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, as well as cultural touchstones such as Sidney Poitier winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies in the Field and Billie Holiday releasing Strange Fruit

Making our way home : the great migration and the black American dream by Blair Imani

"A powerful illustrated history of the Great Migration and its sweeping impact on Black and American culture, from Reconstruction to the rise of hip hop. Over the course of six decades, an unprecedented wave of Black Americans left the South and spread across the nation in search of a better life--a migration that sparked stunning demographic and cultural changes in twentieth-century America. Through gripping and accessible historical narrative paired with illustrations, author and activist Blair Imani examines the largely overlooked impact of The Great Migration and how it affected--and continues to affect--Black identity and America as a whole. Making Our Way Home explores issues like voting rights, domestic terrorism, discrimination, and segregation alongside the flourishing of arts and culture, activism, and civil rights. Imani shows how these influences shaped America's workforce and wealth distribution by featuring the stories of notable people and events, relevant data, and family histories. The experiences of prominent figures such as James Baldwin, Fannie Lou Hamer, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), Ella Baker, and others are woven into the larger historical and cultural narratives of the Great Migration to create a truly singular record of this powerful journey"--

Motherhood so white : a memoir of race, gender, and parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin

"In America, Mother = White. That's what Nefertiti, a single African American woman, discovered when she decided she wanted to adopt a Black baby boy out of the foster care system. Eager to finally join the motherhood ranks, Nefertiti was shocked when people started asking her why she wanted to adopt a 'crack baby' or said that she would never be able to raise a Black son on her own. She realized that American society saw motherhood through a white lens, and that there would be no easy understanding or acceptance of the kind of family she hoped to build. Motherhood So White is the story of Nefertiti's fight to create the family she always knew she was meant to have and the story of motherhood that all American families need now. In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single, Black motherhood, and confronts the reality of raising children of color in racially charged, modern-day America. Honest, vulnerable, and uplifting, Motherhood So White reveals what Nefertiti knew all along - that the only requirement for a successful family is one raised with love"--Jacket-sleeve.

Black is the body : stories from my grandmother's time, my mother's time, and mine by Emily Bernard

"A collection of essays on race"--

The yellow house by Sarah M Broom

The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power

Karamo : my story of embracing purpose, healing, and hope by Karamo Brown

"An insightful, candid, and inspiring memoir from Karamo Brown--Queer Eye's beloved culture expert--as he shares his story for the first time, exploring how the challenges in his own life have allowed him to forever transform the lives of those in need"--

I'm still here : Black dignity in a world made for whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

The author's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America's racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God's ongoing work in the world.

Invisible : the forgotten story of the black woman lawyer who took down America's most powerful mobster by Stephen L Carter

A moving, haunting, and as fast-paced as fiction, Invisible tells the true story of a woman who often found her path blocked by the social political expectations of her time. But Eunice Carter never accepted defeat

Eloquent rage : a black feminist discovers her superpower by Brittney C Cooper

The author describes her identification process in becoming an African American feminist, arguing that the anger of Black women is motivated by a desire for honesty and accountability and is a source of powerful energy in their fight for equality.

The world according to Fannie Davis : my mother's life in the Detroit numbers by Bridgett M Davis

In 1958, the very same year that an unknown songwriter named Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to found Motown Records, a pretty young mother from Nashville, Tennessee, borrowed $100 from her brother to run a Numbers racket out of her tattered apartment on Delaware Street, in one of Detroit's worst sections. That woman was Fannie Davis, Bridgett M. Davis' mother.

Dapper Dan : made in Harlem : a memoir by Daniel R Day

"With his eponymous store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the early 1980s, remixing classic luxury-brand logos into his own flamboyant designs. But before reinventing fashion, he was a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, a teen who daringly gambled drug dealers out of their money, a young man in a prison cell who found nourishment in books, and, finally, a designer who broke barriers to outfit a whos-who of music, sport, and crime world celebrities in looks that wenton to define an era. By turns playful, poignant, and inspiring, Dapper Dan's memoir is a high-stakes coming-of-age story spanning more than 70 years and set against the backdrop of an ever-evolving America"--

Hunger : a memoir of (my) body by Roxane Gay

"Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as "wildly undisciplined," Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be."

The autobiography of Gucci Mane by 1980- author Gucci Mane

For the first time Gucci Mane tells his story in his own words. It is the captivating life of an artist who forged an unlikely path to stardom and personal rebirth. Gucci Mane began writing his memoir in a maximum-security federal prison. Released in 2016, he emerged radically transformed. He was sober, smiling, focused, and positive. In his extraordinary autobiography, the legend takes listeners to his roots in Alabama, the streets of East Atlanta, the trap house, and the studio where he found his voice as a peerless rapper. He reflects on his inimitable career and in the process confronts his dark past

The last black unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

"From stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish comes The Last Black Unicorn, a hilarious, edgy, and heart-wrenching collection of autobiographical essays that will leave you laughing through tears. Tiffany Haddish grew up in one of the poorest partsof South Central Los Angeles. Her mother wound up with a debilitating brain injury after surviving a car accident. Tiffany never fit in anywhere: not in the households she rotated through in the foster care system, and certainly not the nearly all whitehigh school she had to ride the bus an hour to attend. As an illiterate ninth grader, Tiffany did everything she could to survive. After a multitude of jobs, she finally realized that she had talent in an area she never would have suspected: comedy. Tiffany faced the 'routine' hindrances of climbing the entertainment business ladder--but had the added obstacles of sex, race, and class in her way. But she got there. She's humble, grateful, down to earth, and funny as hell. She still cleans the toilet the way she was shown by a foster mom who worked as a maid, and she still rolls her joints the way one of her foster dads taught her. Tiffany can't avoid being funny: it's just who she is. But The Last Black Unicorn is so much more than a side-splittingly hilarious collection of essays--it's a memoir of the struggles of one woman who came from nothing and nowhere. A woman who was able to achieve her dreams by reveling in her pain and awkwardness, showing the world who she really is, and inspiring others through the power of laughter"--

I can't make this up : life lessons by Kevin Hart

Superstar comedian and Hollywood box-office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include: the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and you have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in yourself since Old Yeller

Down the up staircase : three generations of a Harlem family by Bruce D Haynes

"Down the Up Staircase tells the history of three generations of a black middle-class family against the backdrop of the three-story brownstone at 411 Convent Avenue in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem. The home once belonged to its patriarch, George Edmund Haynes, a migrant from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who went on to become the first African American to earn a PhD at Columbia University and found the National Urban League. He was the first prominent black economist in the country, the first to predict thegreat sweeping migration of blacks from the rural South to the urban North, a power broker of the Harlem Renaissance, and the first black to serve in a federal sub-cabinet post, where he mobilized the new Black migrants for the war effort. His wife, Elizabeth Ross Haynes, was a noted children's author of the period and a prominent social scientist. Yet these early advances and gains provided little anchor to the succeeding generations. Their son had dreamed of becoming an engineer but spent his entire career as a parole officer in the Bronx. Their eldest grandson graduated from the prestigious Horace Mann High School but spent much of his adult life in and out of drug rehabilitation clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and the streets. Their second grandson was slain on the streets of the Bronx during his last semester of college, at age twenty-three. Only the youngest grandson--the book's author, Bruce Haynes--was able to build on the gains of his forefathers. Haynes brings sociological insight to a familiarAmerican tale, one where the notion of social mobility and black middle class is a tenuous term"--Provided by publisher

Around the way girl : a memoir by Taraji P Henson

With a sensibility that recalls her beloved screen characters, including Yvette, Queenie, Shug, and the iconic Cookie from Empire, yet is all Taraji, the screen actress writes of her families - the one she was born into and the one she created. She shares stories of her father, a Vietnam vet who was bowed but never broken by life's challenges, and of her mother, who survived violence both in the home and on DC's volatile streets. Here, too, she opens up about her experiences as a single mother, a journey some saw as a burden but she saw as a gift.

She begat this by Joan (Feminist author) author Morgan

"Celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the acclaimed and influential debut album The Misdeducation of Lauryn Hill with this eye-opening and moving exploration of Lauryn Hill and her remarkable artistic legacy. Released in 1998, Lauryn Hill's first solo album is often cited by music critics as one of the most important recordings of all time. Artists from Beyoncé to Nicki Minaj to Janelle Monáe have claimed it as an inspiration, and, in 2017, it was included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, as well as named the second-greatest album by a woman in history by NPR (right behind Joni Mitchell's Blue). Award-winning feminist author and journalist Joan Morgan delivers an expansive, in-depth, and heartfelt analysis of the album and its enduring place in pop culture. She Begat This is both an indelible portrait of a magical moment when a young, fierce, and determined singer-rapper-songwriter made music history and a crucial work of scholarship, perfect for longtime hip-hop fans and a new generation of fans just discovering this album." -- Dust jacket

Survival math : notes on an all-American family by Mitchell S Jackson

With a poet’s gifted ear, a novelist’s sense of narrative, and a journalist’s unsentimental eye, Mitchell S. Jackson candidly explores his tumultuous youth in the other America. Survival Math takes its name from the calculations Mitchell and his family made to keep safe—to stay alive—in their community, a small black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon blighted by drugs, violence, poverty, and governmental neglect. Survival Math is both a personal reckoning and a vital addition to the national conversation about race. Mitchell explores the Portland of his childhood, tracing the ways in which his family managed their lives in and around drugs, prostitution, gangs, and imprisonment as members of a tiny black population in one of the country’s whitest cities. He discusses sex work and serial killers, gangs and guns, near-death experiences, composite fathers, the concept of “hustle,” and the destructive power of drugs and addiction on family. In examining the conflicts within his family and community, Jackson presents a microcosm of struggle and survival in contemporary urban America—an exploration of the forces that shaped his life, his city, and the lives of so many black men like him. As Jackson charts his own path from drug dealer to published novelist, he gives us a heartbreaking, fascinating, lovingly rendered view of the injustices and victories, large and small, that defined his youth

Negroland : a memoir by Margo Jefferson

At once incendiary and icy, mischievous, and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author's rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned to distance itself from whites and the black generality, while tirelessly measuring itself against both.

How we fight for our lives : a memoir by Saeed Jones

"Written from the crossroads of sex, race, and power in America, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir and a haunting reflection of the nation as a whole"--

The butterfly effect : how Kendrick Lamar ignited the soul of black America by Marcus J Moore

A cultural portrait of the Pulitzer Prize-winning rap superstar documents his coming-of-age as an artist, his genius as a lyricist, and his profound impact on today's racially fraught America

Heavy : an American memoir by Kiese Laymon

"Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate--a mother-child relationship--to the most universal--a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries"--

The mother of black Hollywood : a memoir by Jenifer Lewis

The "Mega Diva" and legendary star of Black-ish looks back on her memorable journey to fame and the unforgettable life lessons she learned along the way.

Born bright : a young girl's journey from nothing to something in America by C Mason

"'Standing on the stage, I felt exposed and like an intruder. In these professional settings, my personal experiences with hunger, poverty, and episodic homelessness, often go undetected. I had worked hard to learn the rules and disguise my beginning in life...' So begins C. Nicole Mason's powerful memoir, a story of reconciliation, constrained choices and life on the other side of the tracks. Born in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Mason was raised by a beautiful, but volatile16-year-old single mother. Early on, she learned to navigate between an unpredictable home life and school where she excelled. By high school, Mason was seamlessly straddling two worlds. The first, a cocoon of familiarity where street smarts, toughness and the ability to survive won the day. The other, foreign and unfamiliar with its own set of rules, not designed for her success. In her Advanced Placement classes and outside of her neighborhood, she felt unwelcomed and judged because of the way she talked, dressed and wore her hair. After moving to Las Vegas to live with her paternal grandmother, she worked nights at a food court in one of the Mega Casinos while finishing school. Having figured out the college application process by eavesdropping on the few white kids in herpredominantly Black and Latino school along with the help of a long ago high school counselor, Mason eventually boarded a plane for Howard University, alone and with $200 in her pocket. While showing us her own path out of poverty, Mason examines the conditions that make it nearly impossible to escape and exposes the presumption harbored by many--that the poor don't help themselves enough"--

Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah gleefully provides America with its nightly dose of serrated satire. In his first book, Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa. Noah was born illegal -- the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father's servant in the brief moments when the family came together. His brilliantly eccentric mother loomed over his life -- a comically zealous Christian (they went to church six days a week and three times on Sunday), a savvy hustler who kept food on their table during rough times, and an aggressively involved, if often seriously misguided, parent who set Noah on his bumpy path to stardom. The stories Noah tells are sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious

Notes from a young Black chef : a memoir by Kwame Onwuachi

By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi had opened—and closed—one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had sold drugs in New York and been shipped off to rural Nigeria to “learn respect.” He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars made from selling candy on the subway and starred on Top Chef. Through it all, Onwuachi’s love of food and cooking remained a constant, even when, as a young chef, he was forced to grapple with just how unwelcoming the food world can be for people of color. In this inspirational memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age; a powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest account of chasing your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected.

The bold world : a memoir of family and transformation by Jodie Patterson

"Jodie Patterson is the mother of five children, including her ten-year-old transgender son Penelope, the catalyst for the author's reexamination of identity within her own dynamic household--and the wider world. This inspiring and highly personal debut memoir goes on to examine Jodie's extended families' African American experiences with racism and civil rights, and her own coming of age in New York City in the 1970s and 80s, and later on as a wife, mother, and activist. With a novelist's sense of artful structure and pacing, Jodie turns her lens on a range of subjects--from the women who raised her and provided strength and comfort, all the while going against cultural norms and gender expectations, to her own children, who acted as a vehicle for Jodie's own growth and ultimately her acceptance of her very diverse family. The result is an exquisite study in transformation, identity, courage, and love"--

Breathe : a letter to my sons by Imani Perry

"Explores the terror, grace, and beauty of coming of age as a Black person in contemporary America and what it means to parent our children in a persistently unjust world. Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challengeto society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love--finding beauty and possibility in life--and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition. Perry draws upon the ideas of figures such as James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Emily Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ida B. Wells. She shares vulnerabilities and insight from her own life and from encounters in places as varied as the West Side of Chicago; Birmingham, Alabama; and New England prep schools. Breathe offers a broader meditation on race, gender, and the meaning of a life well lived and is also an unforgettable lesson in Black resistance and resilience"--

The misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

An autoboiography from the Internet video star covers such topics as cybersex in the early days of the Internet, the perils of eating out alone, dealing with unsolicited comments on one's weight, and learning to accept oneself--natural hair and all

So close to being the sh*t, y'all don't even know by author Retta

In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she's always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).

Everything's trash, but it's okay by Phoebe Robinson

"From New York Times bestselling author and star of 2 Dope Queens, Phoebe Robinson, comes a new, hilarious, and timely essay collection on gender, race, dating, and a world that seems to always be a self-starting Dumpster fire. Wouldn't it be great if life came with an instruction manual? Of course, but like access to Michael B. Jordan's house, none of us are getting any. Thankfully, Phoebe Robinson is ready to share everything she's experienced in hopes that if you can laugh at her topsy-turvy life, you can laugh at your own. Written in her trademark unfiltered and singularly witty style, Robinson's latest essay collection is a call to arms. She tackles a wide range of topics, such as giving feminism a tough love talk in hopes it can become more intersectional; telling society's beauty standards to kick rocks; and demanding that toxic masculinity close its mouth and legs (enough with the manspreading already!), and get out of the way so true progress can happen"--

You can't touch my hair and other things I still have to explain by Phoebe Robinson

Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: She's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend", as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn't that...white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. The. Time. Now she's ready to take these topics to audio - and she's going to make you laugh as she's doing it.

Hurricanes : a memoir by Rick Ross

"Rick Ross is an indomitable presence in the music industry, but few people know his full story. Now, for the first time, Ross offers a vivid, dramatic and unexpectedly candid account of his early childhood, his tumultuous adolescence and his dramatic ascendancy in the world of hip-hop."--

This is just my face : try not to stare by Gabourey Sidibe

The Oscar-nominated Precious star and Empire actress delivers a much-awaited memoir - wise, complex, smart, funny - a version of the American experience different from anything we've heard.

The chiffon trenches : a memoir by André Leon Talley

"Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from style icon, bestselling author, and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley. During André Leon Talley's first magazine job assisting Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decade's long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, Talley moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's most important designers. But as Talley made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he developed an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour, and as she rose to the top of Vogue's masthead, Talley became the most influential man in fashion. The Chiffon Trenches is a candid look at the who's who of the last fifty years of fashion, and proof that fact is always fascinatingly more devilish than fiction. André Leon Talley's engaging memoir tells the story of how he not only survived but thrived--despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry--to become one of the most legendary voices and faces in fashion"--

Here for it : or, how to save your soul in America : essays by R Thomas

"R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went--whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city--he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Eric redefines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience. He explores the two worlds of his childhood: the barren urban landscape where his parents' house was an anomalous bright spot, and the verdant school they sent him to in white suburbia. He writes about struggling to reconcile his Christian identity with his sexuality, about the exhaustion of code-switching in college, accidentally getting famous on the internet (for the wrong reason), and the surreal experience of covering the 2016 election as well as the seismic change that came thereafter. Ultimately, Eric seeks the answer to the ever more relevant question: Is the future worth it? Why do we bother when everything seems to be getting worse? As the world continues to shift in unpredictable ways, Eric finds the answers to these questions by re-envisioning what "normal" means, and in the powerful alchemy that occurs when you at last place yourself at the center of your own story"--

We're going to need more wine : stories that are funny, complicated, and true by Gabrielle Union

Union launched her career with roles in iconic '90s movies. When she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault, she urged compassion for victims of sexual violence. In this moving collection of essays, Union tells astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame. She discusses her experiences with bullying, beauty standards, and competition between women in Hollywood; growing up in white California suburbia, and coping with the divorce of her parents. Throughout, she reminds us of the importance of confidence, self-awareness, and the power of sharing truth, laughter, and support

Men we reaped : a memoir by Jesmyn Ward

Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones, Sing, Unburied, Sing) contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.

More than enough : claiming space for who you are (no matter what they say) by Elaine Welteroth

"In this part-manifesto, part-memoir, the revolutionary editor who infused social consciousness into the pages of Teen Vogue explores what it means to come into your own--on your own terms Throughout her life, Elaine Welteroth has climbed the ranks of media and fashion, shattering ceilings along the way. In this riveting and timely memoir, the groundbreaking journalist unpacks lessons on race, identity, and success through her own journey, from navigating her way as the unstoppable child of a unlikely interracial marriage in small-town California to finding herself on the frontlines of a modern movement for the next generation of change makers. Welteroth moves beyond the headlines and highlight reels to share the profound lessons and struggles of being abarrier-breaker across so many intersections. As a young boss and the only black woman in the room, she's had enough of the world telling her--and all women--they're not enough. As she learns to rely on herself by looking both inward and upward, we're ultimately reminded that we're more than enough"--

Rabbit : the autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams

“I know a lot of people think they know what it’s like to grow up in the hood. Like maybe they watched a couple of seasons of The Wire and they got the shit all figured out. But TV doesn’t tell the whole story.” – Ms. Pat

Self-portrait in black and white : unlearning race by Thomas Chatterton Williams

"A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics. A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family's multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a 'black' father from the segregated South and a 'white' mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of 'blackblood' makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he'd never rigorously reflected on its foundations -- but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions. 'It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,' Williams writes. 'It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.' Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time"--

What doesn't kill you makes you blacker : a memoir in essays by Damon Young

The co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com presents a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the direct impact of racism on his life, the shifting definition of black male identity, and the ongoing realities of white supremacy
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National Medal Recipient of the National Medal, the nation's highest honor for libraries.