Michaela Da Silva / Staff Reporter
Gutter Child by Jael Richardson. The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. White Ivy by Suzie Lang. Brit Bennet, Kiley Reid, Terry McMillan, Brandon Taylor. The death of George Floyd and the passionate, powerful efforts that have been made in the face of Black Lives Matter are just the tip of the iceberg on the discussion of equality awareness. Within this is the world of black authors and books — an aspect of this whole movement that has completely skyrocketed since the triumphant start of 2021. Book shop owners and publishers are seeing BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour) authors fly off the shelves and gain abundance and popularity within the reading community with acceptance, love and gusto.
CBC’s 2021 Canada Reads have 5 finalist books and 3 of them are written by BIPOC authors or discuss the lives of black people–and this is only one of many accomplishments and prize-winning awards that have come to light. Additionally, last week, all five of the New York Times list of best-selling non-fiction books were about anti-racism:
- White Fragility, Robin Diangelo
- So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- How to be An Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
- Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad
- The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
“Here’s our Black History Month displays, we can hardly keep them stocked,”Julia McKnight, assistant manager of teen services at the Vancouver Public Library (VPL).
Library owners and book shop workers are bringing in more black authors and anti-racism books than ever. Large publishing companies such as HarperCollins and Black Classic keep up a steady reputation for accepting and publishing BIPOC authors and perpetuate this notion throughout other widespread companies. Publishing has always been an area of the book community with questionable standards for the backgrounds of authors, and has historically been an avid way to suppress voices of minorities and only sustain those of majority and popularity. Hopefully this is a turning point and a sign for other major companies to open up their spectrum of acceptance and pump out more and more BIPOC authors and books discussing minority lives and struggles.
Hopefully this evident shift in the community of books will sustain throughout the media, and lead to the normalization of an abundance of backgrounds in movies, shows, advertisements, magazines, etc. The hope through all these efforts surrounding BIPOC lives matter is to bring light and awareness to the lives and struggles of minorities and to show them that we support and will fight for what they continue to go through, all around the world. Engaging in the strategies of BLM in the media is an investment in one’s own intellectual, social, and political intelligence, but the influence comes from the actions based upon our knowledge of what we need to do to promote and perpetuate equality and kindness. At the end of the day, it is beneficial to read a book on how to not be racist, but the transformative dynamic of our society comes from understanding what we can do and then following through with the actions that create powerful, moving change.
ABOVE: notable BIPOC authors in order: Michelle Obama, Jael Richardson, Robert Jones Jr, Joshua Whitehead
“The only constant in life is change. And yet, change doesn’t happen overnight. As we turn a page on black history month, one that took on a renewed urgency after last month’s protests, we can’t say that change is suddenly here and that racism has vanished. But some things are different… and these things may point to change.” Says Paul Haavardsrud in a Podcast segment for CBC on increasing black author popularity. LIsten to the full segment with BookNet senior producer Falice Chin here.
BIPOC AUTHORS / STORIES RECOMMENDED BY THE AUTHOR:
- The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennet
- Gutter Child, Jael Richardson
- From the Ashes, Jesse Thistle
- Johnny Appleseed, Joshua Whitehead
- Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
- The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas
- + Many more !