As an English major, I spend a good amount of time reading for class and then a little more time reading for fun! Spending so much time in books has allowed me to read from a variety of authors and backgrounds. Through my Gender Studies and Literature courses, I became drawn to these powerful and personal tales. This February, in honour of Black History Month, let’s take a look back at some of the most impactful Black women authors of our time.
Although she may be more predominantly known for her novel, The Color Purple, Alice Walker’s body of work spans decades as we’ve seen her novels jump from the stage to the screen. I am particularly a fan of In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, where Walker explores how Black women were artists in their everyday life through tasks which would usually be described as domestic. It’s truly a great story and lesson for those who feel discouraged to pursue their dream due to lack of resources or support.
Maybe you’ve heard of a little book called The Bluest Eye? Toni Morrison is probably one of the most celebrated writers on this list as a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author as well as the 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s novels are highly nuanced by her poetic prose and focus on challenging themes such as race, war and family.
As the author of the 2014 hit, Bad Feminist, Gay tackles modern topics ranging from Grey’s Anatomy to Chris Brown. She has since written another novel called Hunger which is a complex retelling of her rape, struggles with body image and issues with food. Gay’s essays are always highly personal and as a professor, she does a great job at analyzing and reflecting upon important topics that some academics are quick to dismiss.
Known for her poetry and activism, Audre Lorde was a champion of speaking your truth. One of her most powerful quotes “your silence will not protect you” echoes this sentiment perfectly. Lorde also spoke out about her sexuality as a lesbian as well as her experience with breast cancer.
This Black History Month and beyond, consider the ways that you can be an ally and celebrate and learn about the accomplishments of Black people. I hope you take some time this reading week to check out the works of these authors.