1000 Black Girl Books

Before I get into my new project, I want to announce an update schedule change. Alongside working full time and trying to plan a wedding, I’ll be starting grad school to get my MLIS next month. I want to keep updating at regular intervals, so I’ve decided to post here every other week. I’ll also be posting about each book as a whole, rather than chapter-by-chapter reviews. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow me @nortonwriter14, where I’ll tweet every time the blog is updated. I’ll also occasionally post about books, the writing process, and probably about space and/or cats.

Thank you to everyone who’s read with me this far!


 

For three years, give or take a couple hiatuses, I’ve worked on this blog, reviewing nostalgic books, one chapter at a time. Originally, I wanted to see which old books were worth keeping, and which should find new homes. I’ve downsized a lot since those early days. There are still books that I brought with me from state to state that I’d love to review here, and maybe someday I’ll get to them. But as my life has changed, I think it’s time for this blog to change as well.

I’d debated with myself about what that change should be – one idea I had was reading through Newberry Medal winners – but inspiration struck during a trip to the local library. I was on a tour as part of my volunteer orientation when the librarian pointed out a wall of books near the children’s section. “This is something new we’re trying,” she told me. “1000 Black Girl Books.”

#1000BlackGirlBooks was founded by thirteen-year-old Marley Dias, who’s collected over 11,000 books featuring Black female protagonists. The full list can be found at Grassroots Community Foundation.  I’m a voracious reader, and I was curious to see how many of the books I’ve read made it on to the list.

Four. And of those four, only one was written by a Black author.

I went to my bookshelves and scanned titles, asking myself, “how many of these books are written by White authors? How many of them have characters of color?”

The answer was, “very few”.

I was so disappointed in myself. For all I reminded myself to check my privilege or “stay woke”, my own personal library was incredibly lacking. And that’s when I decided: I needed to step out of my literary bubble.

To be totally honest, I’m a little nervous about doing this. I can’t pretend to be enlightened, or even have a solid foundation to discuss race on. I grew up in a town and went to schools full of de facto segregation, all without knowing it. I saw White heroes everywhere, and Black sidekicks without ever thinking deeply about. Because I loved The Help until I read a Roxane Gay’s take on it, exposing the work’s flaws and all my ignorance with it.

Going through this blogging project, I know I’m going to say the wrong thing. I’m going to stick my foot in my mouth, and there are times when I just won’t “get it”. I know reading books isn’t going to completely eliminate the prejudices and biases that I have. But only by acknowledging and challenging them will I be able to change them. And this is how I’m combating them: with empathy, and information, and books.

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