…come celebrateLucille Clifton
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? Unfortunately, not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all – regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability – have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.
This book will NEVER leave my bookshelf. I bought it from one of my favorite bookstores in Puerto Rico (Libros AC) almost two years ago and, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. For so long I was told that I was not black enough to be reading books on the matter because I’m a Latina; it made me afraid to even look for books by black authors. Even thou one of our best (if not, THE best) poets in Puerto Rico (and Latin America) was a black woman called Julia de Burgos, black literature is not so visible in Puerto Rico.
Systematic racism is definitely engraved in everything we experience; especially books. The access to information and representation of who we are as individuals and as a community, I believe, is stronger now than before. Authors like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker (my personal favorite), Audre Lorde and Angela Maria Davila (PR writer not mentioned in the book but worth mentioning here) broke those barriers for us to not continue feeling left out and to build strong minds so that, we not only learn more about ourselves and our history, but we can create a new history where we are all included on the boat to collective growth. However, the fight is not over.
Edim’s book is an anthology that showcases the amazing work done by black women authors in the United States, as told by other black women authors through essays (including a Latina sister called Veronica Chambers). As they shared their experiences with pivotal books of black literature, these amazing women made me feel (in some small part) proud of and more connected to myself with their stories. I don’t know what is like to be a black woman in the States, but I do know what it feels like to be a brown woman in the Latinx community and, especially, in Puerto Rico. Both types of women are two different trees that emerged from the same root. And both suffer the same evil: racism.
Well Read Black Girl is an gem that every person (not just black or brown) should have in their bookshelves. If not to identify with or connect with, have it to (at least) understand and support black stories. I also loved that it takes you through different genres in which every one of them has a voice, whether it is in classic novels, black feminism, black girlhood and frienship, science fiction and fantasy, plays or poetry. Personally, I was surprised and super glad that there were science fiction and fantasy black writers; because you don’t read many books of this genre written by black authors; especially women authors. And it has felt like that for so long, hasn’t it?
Black and brown stories (including LGBTQ+ stories) have been ignored and cast off as ‘unworthy’, ‘unpopular’ and ‘boring’ because our narratives have been robbed and misused by those that worked so hard to keep it from us. But, as we say in the Island, no puedes tapar el sol con el dedo and, eventually, our true stories will be (as said by the book) found and treasured. Through them, we will discover ourselves in the pages of our own books…as it should be.