Reading Black Women

Discover feminist texts written by black women between 1965-1995.

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Audre Lorde Persephone Press 1982 From Wikipedia: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name is a 1982 autobiography by American poet Audre Lorde. It started a new genre that the author calls biomythography, which combines history, biography, and myth. In the text, Lorde writes that “Zami” is “a Carriacou name for women…

In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose

In Search of Our Mothers’Gardens: Womanist Prose Alice Walker Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1983 From Wikipedia: Published in 1983, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose is a collection composed of 36 separate pieces written by Alice Walker. The essays, articles, reviews, statements, and speeches were written between 1966 and 1982. Many are based on her understanding of “womanist”…

The Black Woman: An Anthology

The Black Woman: An Anthology Toni Cade Bambara Signet 1970 A collection of early, emerging works from some of today’s most celebrated African American female writers. When it was first published in 1970, The Black Woman introduced readers to an astonishing new wave of voices that demanded to be heard. In this groundbreaking volume of original essays,…

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa (eds.) Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press 1981 This Bridge Called My Back intends to reflect an uncompromising definition of feminism by women of color in the United States. Containing prose, poetry, personal narrative and analysis by Afro-American, Asian American,…

The Cancer Journals

The Cancer Journals Audre Lorde Aunt Lute Books 1980 Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy. From Penguin Random House: Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women’s pain, Lorde questioned the…

Watchers and Seekers: Creative Writing by Black Women in Britain

Watchers and Seekers: Creative Writing by Black Women in Britain Rhonda Cobham and Merle Collins The Women’s Press 1987 This book is an anthology of some of the most exciting work being written and performed by Black women in Britain. Poems and short stories by African and Asian women, the collection casts an incisive eye…

Women, Race and Class

Women, Race and Class Angela Davis Randomhouse 1981 Ranging from the age of slavery to contemporary injustices, this groundbreaking history of race, gender and class inequality by the radical political activist Angela Davis offers an alternative view of female struggles for liberation. Tracing the intertwined histories of the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, Davis examines…

Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology

Home Girls: A BlackFeminist Anthology Barbara Smith Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press 1983 The pioneering anthology Home Girls, edited by Barbara Smith, features writings by Black feminists and lesbian activists on topics both provocative and profound. Since its initial publication in 1983, it has become an essential text on Black women’s lives and writings. From Wikipedia:…

Black Lesbians: An Annotated Bibliography

Black Lesbians: An AnnotatedBibliography J.R. Roberts Naiad Press 1981 An annotated list of writing by and about black lesbians, compiled by J.R. Roberts. The information is categorised by the following themes:… Lives and lifestyles… Oppression, resistance, and liberation… Literature and criticism… Photographs… Music and musicians… Periodicals… Research, reference, and popular studies

The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain

The Heart of the Race: BlackWomen’s Lives in Britain Beverly Bryan, Stella Dadzie and Suzanne Scafe Virago 1985 This book records what life is like for the Black women in Britain: grandmothers drawn to the promise of the ‘mother country’ in the 1950s talk of a different reality; young girls describe how their aspirations at…

The Color Purple

The Color Purple Alice Walker Harcourt 1982 From Wikipedia: Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of African-American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library…

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1970 The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue…

The Unbelonging

The Unbelonging Joan Riley The Women’s Press 1985 The Unbelonging is a moving story of self-discovery and survival. It tells of an 11 year old girl, who finds herself in a land of strangers with hers the only black face in a sea of white, after being summoned to Britain by the father she has…

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Audre Lorde Crossing Press 1982 From Wikipedia: Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches is a collection of essential essays and speeches written by Audre Lorde, a woman who wrote from the particulars of her identity: Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist writer. This collection, now considered a classic volume, of Lorde’s…

The Gilda Stories

The Gilda Stories Jewelle Gomez Firebrand Books 1991 From Wikipedia: The Gilda Stories is the debut novel of American author and activist Jewelle Gomez. Published in 1991, this speculative fiction vampire novel follows the experiences of a black bisexual heroine whose power and morality challenge assumptions about the vampire myth. Readers see this central character travel through time and lead multiple lives.  The Gilda…

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem Maryse Condé Mercure de France 1986 This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the general amnesty for witches two years later. Maryse Condé brings…

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge,Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment Patricia Hill Collins Hyman 1990 In Black Feminist Thought, originally published in 1990, Patricia Hill Collins set out to explore the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals and writers, both within the academy and without. Here Collins provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black…

Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black bell hooks Sheba Feminist Press 1989 In childhood, bell hooks was taught that “talking back” meant speaking as an equal to an authority figure and daring to disagree and/or have an opinion. In this collection of personal and theoretical essays, hooks reflects on her signature issues of racism and…

Women, Culture, and Politics

Women, Culture, and Politics Angela Y. Davis Random House 1989 Women, Culture, and Politics is a collection of speeches and writings by political activist Angela Davis which address the political and social changes of the past decade as they are concerned with the struggle for racial, sexual, and economic equality. Table of Contents On Women…

Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism

Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism bell hooks South End Press 1981 From Wikipedia: Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism is a 1981 book by bell hooks titled after Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. hooks examines the effect of racism and sexism on black women, the civil rights movement, and feminist movements from suffrage to the 1970s. She…

Arrival of the Snake-Woman and Other Stories

Arrival of the Snake-Woman and Other Stories Olive Senior Longman 1989 Arrival of the Snake-Woman by Jamaican-born Olive Senior narrates the story of an isolated child who is coming to terms with the strange, harsh ways of the adult world. From Encyclopedia.com: In the story, “snake-woman” is the name given by black Jamaicans to young…

I Am Becoming My Mother

I Am Becoming My Mother Lorna Goodison New Beacon Books 1986 I Am Becoming My Mother is a book of poetry by Lorna Goodison: a Jamaican poet and leading West Indian writer. Apart from issues of home and exile, her work also addresses the power of art to explore and reconcile opposites and contradictions in…

A Small Place

A Small Place Jamaica Kincaid Virago 1988 From Wikipedia: A Small Place is a 1988 work of creative nonfiction published by Jamaica Kincaid. A book-length essay drawing on Kincaid’s experiences growing up in Antigua, it can be read as an indictment of the Antiguan government, the tourist industry and Antigua’s British colonial legacy. But some natives–most natives in the world–cannot go anywhere. They…

A Question of Power

A Question of Power Bessie Head Heinemann 1974 In the village of Motabeng, Botswana – the place of sand – Elizabeth and her son have made their new home, far away from their old life in South Africa. But the past cannot be conveniently left behind at the border. Even though she may be free…

Maru

Maru Bessie Head McCall Publishing Company 1971 An African love story and statement on racial & tribal prejudice, set in mid-twentieth century Botswana. An orphaned Masarwa girl comes to Dilepe to teach, only to discover that in this remote Botswana village her people are treated as outcasts. In the love story and intrigue that follow,…

Second Class Citizen

Second Class Citizen Buchi Emecheta Allison & Busby 1974 From Wikipedia: Second Class Citizen is a 1974 novel by Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta. A poignant story of a resourceful Nigerian woman who overcomes strict tribal domination of women and countless setbacks to achieve an independent life for herself and her children, the novel is often…

So Long A Letter

So Long A Letter Mariama Bâ Les Nouvelles Éditions Africaines du Sénéga 1979 From Wikipedia: So Long a Letter (French: Une si longue lettre) is a semi-autobiographical epistolary novel originally written in French by the Senegalese writer Mariama Bâ. Its theme is the condition of women in Western African society. So Long a Letter, Mariama Bâ’s first novel, is literally written…

One is Enough

One is Enough Flora Nwapa AKM 1981 One is Enough is a fictional story written by Flora Nwapa, one of Nigeria’s pioneering woman novelist. It is a powerful and compelling story of one woman’s struggle to find an independent and fulfilling life of her own. After six years of happy, though childless marriage, Amaka, at…

The Black Unicorn: Poems

The Black Unicorn: Poems Audre Lorde Norton 1978 Filled with rage and tenderness, Audre Lorde’s most acclaimed poetry collection speaks of mothers and children, female strength and vulnerability, renewal and revenge, goddesses and warriors, ancient magic and contemporary America. These are fearless assertions of identity, told with incantatory power. I have been womanfor a long…

Womanslaughter

Womanslaughter Pat Parker Diana Press 1978 From Wikipedia: Parker’s elder sister, Shirley Jones, was shot and killed by her husband. Parker wrote the autobiographical poem, Womanslaughter, based on this event. In the poem, Parker notes that Her things were hisincluding her life. The perpetrator was convicted of “womanslaughter”, not murder, because Men cannot kill their…

Movement in Black

Movement in Black Pat Parker Diana Press 1978 Movement In Black is a collection of poetry by Black lesbian feminist Pat Parker. The poems featured in the collection center around Parker’s experiences as a Black woman, lesbian, feminist, mother, writer, poet, and activist.  From Wikipedia: The collection was originally published by Diana Press in 1978.…

Nervous Conditions

Nervous Conditions Tsitsi Dangarembga The Women’s Press 1988 A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision.…