Black History Month

I decided to celebrate this Black History Month by reading only black authors. I even managed to mix in some non-fiction, a rarity for me. I thought it’d be fun to share my reading list along with my highlighted passages.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.

Page 30

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.

Page 34

Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.

Page 41

For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that.

Page 41

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

“Lord knows that Lambs can be damn annoying, with their silly materialism, hatred of education, and love of remaining stupid. They’re obsessed with getting things fast, fast, fast, with the least amount of work, books, no instruction. It’s universal.”

Page 244

“Overconsumption is a universal human trait,” Orlu pointed out. “And so is ignorance.”

Page 395

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

The people on the ship weren’t Himba, but I soon understood that they were still my people. I stood out as a Himba, but the commonalities shined brighter.

Page 21

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates

When crack hit Baltimore, civilization fell.

Page 29

To be strapped was to grab the steering wheel of our careening lives. A gun was a time machine and an anchor—it dictated events. To be strapped was to master yourself, to become more than a man whose life and death could be simply seized and hurled about.

Page 35

All around us the old order of black fathers was tilting toward disgrace, trading in their honor for wine and dice, and leaving in their wake legions of boys, dizzied, angry, and confused. But Dad resisted the heathen call, parted the stagnant lake of fallen knights, and reached for his blade.

Page 54

I was a boy like all boys, selfish in my own particular way. What I could not understand was something that seemed elemental to everyone else around me—that a kid who lost his heart was worthy of nothing.

Page 62

The Knowledge Rule 2080: From maggots to men, the world is a corner bully. Better you knuckle up and go for yours than have to bow your head and tuck your chain.

Page 66

He stood with those who had come to believe that our condition, the worst of this country’s condition—poor, diseased, illiterate, crippled, dumb—was not just a tumor to be burrowed out but proof that this whole body was a tumor, that America was not a victim of great rot but rot itself.

Page 75

A bullet could fell one enemy, a grenade a few more, but the mimeograph could kill the hearts and minds of thousands and resurrect many more of your own.

Page 83

Among the Conscious, a man is only worth his latest reading. Each page pulled you farther out of slumber, and among the most enlightened it was not uncommon to hear an entire conversation composed of footnotes.

Page 90

I was twelve, but when I heard “Lyrics of Fury”—“A horn if you want the style I possess / I bless the child, the earth, the gods, and bomb the rest”—I put away childish things, went to the notebook, and caged myself between the blue lines.

Page 110

because if you do this right, if you claim to be that nigger enough, though you battle only your bedroom mirror, there is a part of you that believes. That was how I came to understand, how I came to know why all these brothers wrote and talked so big.

Page 110

Hip-hop gave me a common language, but that August, on liberated land, I found that there were other ways of speaking, a mother tongue that, no matter age, no matter interest, lived in us all.

Page 147

To be a black male is to be always at war, and no flight to the county can save us, because even there we are met by the assumption of violence, by the specter of who we might turn on next.


Page 192

I did not know then that this is what life is—just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you’re swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles.

Page 220