What I Read For Black History Month 2021

Continuing the tradition I started last year, I celebrated Black History Month by reading black authors. Here are those books I read along with some of my favorite passages from them.

Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

We must believe in our souls that we are somebody, that we are significant, that we are worthful, and we must walk the streets of life every day with this sense of dignity and this sense of somebody-ness.

Location 337

There are big forces that want to keep the Negro down, like Jim Crow, and there are small forces that want to keep you down, like other people, and in the face of all those things, the big ones and the smaller ones, you have to stand up straight and maintain your sense of who you are.

Location 340

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, the reverend said, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

Location 2180

Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

“What the Leaving proved was that the Earth could sustain billions, if we simply shared resources and responsibilities in a sensible way. What it couldn’t sustain was a handful of hateful, self-important parasites, preying upon and paralyzing everyone else. As soon as those people left, the paralysis ended.”

Location 347

"Six billion people working toward a goal together is much more effective than a few dozen scrabbling for themselves.”

Location 361

How Long ‘til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin

The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by those concealing ill intent, of insisting that people already suffering should be afflicted with further, unnecessary pain. This is the paradox of tolerance, the treason of free speech: we hesitate to admit that some people are just fucking evil and need to be stopped.

Page 5

So many of our leaders are weak, and choose to take power from others rather than build strength in themselves. And then, having laid claim to what they have not earned, they wonder why everything around them spirals into chaos.

Page 181

Humankind had discovered a cruel truth in the centuries of space exploration: Sentience, not life, was the true rarity of the universe.

Page 190

Death felt himself ignored and forgotten—but that was all right. The young did not often think about Death, but Death was no less eternal for their disinterest.

Page 294

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

It takes a whole lot longer to dispose of a body than to dispose of a soul, especially if you don’t want to leave any evidence of foul play.

Location 192

‘The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.’

Location 1707

Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump

“If there’s one thing wrong with people,” Paul always said, “it’s that no one remembers the shit that they should, and everyone remembers the shit that doesn’t matter for shit.”

Location 232

Why wouldn’t the cops accept us? I could see the officers’ faces underneath their riot helmets. Couldn’t they see our fear? Why didn’t they let us through? Black cops too, standing there blank and emotionless. Why weren’t they scared? Why wasn’t everyone scared like me? I got angry at the cops’ blankness. And, then, I wanted them to fear me, to fear us, to understand our capabilities. Instead, they pushed us away.

Location 1044

Scared people can summon a response to their fear. Terror freezes a person in their seat, makes their brown hair turn white.

Location 2441

And both those brothers got shot. And both those brothers wanted freedom. And the Civil Rights Act was political. And black America still isn’t free. And black men are still dying. And black women are still dying. And there’s anger, yes, there’s anger. And that anger has to go away when you go to work or go to school or ride the bus or go to the grocery store or go to a movie downtown. And that anger has to go away—if it doesn’t, how do you survive?

Location 1060