As the days grow longer and warmer, consider one (or two!) of these titles to energize your spirit this spring. From a pleasure activism guide, to a celebration of Beyoncé, to deeply personal memoirs, here are 10 books by writers of color that embrace self-love, resilience and authenticity.
“The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 3: Halal If You Hear Me,” by Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo (Haymarket Books)
Haymarket’s third book in its Breakbeat Poets series moves away from “the cis-ness, the straightness, the maleness” that dominates Muslim representation, as editor Safia Elhillo writes. With writings by Muslims who are women, queer, trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming, this sweeping collection draws a poetic landscape where intersecting identities are celebrated.
“The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays,” by Esmé Weijun Wang (Graywolf Press)
Esmé Weijun Wang shares in intimate detail her journey of being diagnosed and living with schizoaffective disorder. In 13 essays that combine reporting and memoir, Wang takes on the prevailing societal misconceptions that render people diagnosed with schizophrenia untreatable, thus justifying their incarceration and forced hospitalization.
“The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America,” by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman (Little, Brown and Company)
The title plays on the toxic, nationalistic assumption that immigrants are “good” if they assimilate to the dominant culture. In this sweeping collection of essays, Teju Cole, Jenny Zhang, Porochista Khakpour and 22 other writers dispel this notion, with a range of perspectives on assimilation, appropriation and double consciousness.
“How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance,” by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin (Bold Type Books)
Colorlines’ editors Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin present a curation of Black visionary writing, perspectives and artistry, showcasing the many ways Black Americans subvert and resist racism, with contributions by Hanif Abdurraqib, Tarana Burke, Amanda Seales, Ta-Nehisi Coates and more. “The point of this whole thing isn’t just to fight White supremacy. It’s to destroy it and create something liberatory for all,” Solomon and Rankin write. “But we can’t accomplish this without having a vision of what our own liberation looks like.”
Nick Estes, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico, tells the enthralling story of the Standing Rock protests aginst the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016, contextualizing it within two centuries of the Oceti Sakowin’s resistance to United States genocidal warfare. ”Concepts such as Mni Wiconi (water is life) may be new to some, but like the nation of people the concept belongs to, Mni Wiconi predates and continues to exist in spite of White supremacist empire like the United States,” Estes writes.
“Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good,” by adrienne maree brown (AK Press)
adrienne maree brown’s latest book calls on readers to make activism the most pleasurable experience possible. Tap into your erotic needs with brown’s “hot and heavy homework,” and learn why self-love and harm reduction are requisites for activism, through poems, excerpts and reflections by feminist activists and luminaries.
“Queen Bey: A Celebration of the Power and Creativity of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter,” by Veronica Chambers (St. Martin’s Press)
From Lena Waithe to Brittney Cooper to Kid Fury, and more, Beyoncé fans discuss the artist’s enduring legacy, brilliance and contribution to queer communities, activism and feminism.
“Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family,” by Mitchell S. Jackson (Scribner)
Through a series of lyrical essays, author Mitchell S. Jackson looks back at his youth growing up in a low-income predominantly Black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, where, up until 1926, it was illegal for a Black person to live. Jackson delves into this history, tracing the path of the city’s Black population while chronicling how other forces—family, toxic masculinity, gentrification, corporations and White supremacy—shaped the world around him.
“Thick: And Other Essays,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom (The New Press)
Sociologist and professor Tressie McMillan Cottom dives into her deeply personal experiences with body image, sexual abuse and the loss of a child, molding her essays with raw emotion, quick wit, tongue-in-cheek humor and “thick” analyses of systemic racism.
“We Live for the We,” by Dani McClain (Bold Type Books)
Longtime reproductive justice reporter, and now first-time mom, Dani McClain sets out to understand how to raise her daughter as a Black woman living in a hostile world. McClain speaks with other Black mothers who are leading social and political movements, piecing together a handbook on how to build mutually supportive communities for future generations.