Now more than ever, it is important for people to stand in solidarity with African Americans who are protesting their inequality in this time of Black Lives Matter.
Because of that, and that this is all occurring while Pride Month has just begun, I thought it would be good to recommend to readers my favorite books written by queer authors.
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olluo
In Olluo’s book, she breaks down the importance of having discussions about race and the importance of understanding that African Americans are continuously being oppressed in American society in a way that feels accessible to any reader. She uses her scholarly knowledge about race sprinkled with personal anecdotes about microagressions she has faced as a queer black woman and her book serves as a call to action for white people to check their privilege as well as a call to other African Americans that they are entitled to the anger that they feel. Both informational and impactful, I recommend giving this a read to anyone looking to understand why racism is still a huge problem in our country.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Most people know James Baldwin as the African American activist who used his writing to shed a light on African American culture and what was happening to African Americans on a daily basis, but James Baldwin was also a gay man and while Giovanni’s Room is Baldwin’s only novel to discuss sexuality, it is to me one of his most powerful pieces of writing. In the novel Baldwin explores the effects that society’s views on homosexuality have on an individual trying to come to terms with their identity through the lens of an American soldier who falls in love with an Italian bartender. Throughout the novel, the main protagonist has a very difficult time allowing himself to live freely and authentically, thus resulting in the escalation of his pain and anger towards his sexuality. The writing, like in all of Baldwin’s works, is powerful and poignant; and despite being a classic, this story reminds readers of what it was like for the LGBTQ+ individuals before us and the sacrifices they had to make so that we can live the life we have now.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
This recommendation is for readers who are a fan of the popular Young Adult novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This is Nic Stone’s debut novel that also tackles how systemic racism has an impact on young African American teenagers. We follow our main protagonist Justyce who struggles with the issues that affect young African American teenagers on a daily basis from being racially profiled by police to having to defend themselves from the accusations of white aggressors (both of which make up the majority of the plot of this novel). To cope, Justyce starts writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in order to channel the deeply rooted anger he feels. The writing of this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat needing to know the outcome for Justyce, and like The Hate U Give, Justyce is another character that will stick with you long after you read these books.
It is important that we stand in solidarity with our African American friends and loved ones and show our support in any way that we can. As protests continue all over the country, we must remember that not too long ago, LGBTQ+ individuals were fighting against police brutality during the Stonewall riots. A powerful way to become aware or spread awareness is by reading. These books can serve as a few ways to make yourself aware of how serious the effects of systemic racism and oppression really are.