From Georgia Douglas Johnston to Langston Hughes, Black literature in 20th century Washington played a pivotal role in the city’s cultural renaissance. Today, contemporary writers residing in the DMV offer new perspectives on topics ranging from minimalist culture, to social commentary, to relationships and more. To celebrate Black History Month, District Fray has compiled five must-read books by Black authors from the DMV. While today marks the end of 2022’s Black History Month, continuous learning from the voices of the Black writers should be realized every month of the year.
“The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less” by Christine Platt
Author and academic Christine Platt is known to the District as the “The Afrominimalist.” Platt has leveraged her research in the environmental arena not only for policy reform, but her recent novel “The Afrominimalaist’s Guide to Living with Less.” In this book, Platt details her personal experience navigating white-washed wellness culture, and the necessity to conceptualize contemporary minimalism from an intersectional perspective.
“Ashes to Justice” by R.E.I.L.
Longtime DMV resident Shaquetta Nelson aka R.E.I.L. is a multi-talented written and spoken word artist whose new poetry collection “Ashes to Justice” just hit the shelves. R.E.I.L.’s poetry is an autobiographical depiction of her personal experiences overcoming pain and realizing survival into an art form that can touch the lives of others.
“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo
D.C. resident Elizabeth Acevedo explores the duality of love and loss and in her 2020 novel “Clap When You Land.” The story follows the lives of two sisters, Yahaira and Camino, whose lives are shaken when their father unexpectedly passes away in a plane crash in the Dominican Republic. As the girls’ lives are turned completely on their heads, the bonds they form during a time of immeasurable loss presents the reader with a newfound understanding of connection.
“The Strong Black Woman: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women” by Marita Golden
Marita Golden is a D.C. native who opens the discussion around Black women’s mental health in her 2021 book “The Strong Black Woman: How a Myth Endangers the Physical and Mental Health of Black Women.” Golden leverages her lived experiences by compiling personal memoirs, interviews, and meditations to destigmatize Black women’s relationship to mental health.
“The World Doesn’t Require You” by Rion Almicar Scott
Rion Almicar Scott’s critically-acclaimed 2019 “The World Doesn’t Require You” is a collection of surrealist short stories that traverse themes of race and identity in essays that span over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. Set in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, Scott’s characters are faced with challenges that ultimately serve as a commentary on the necessity for change in American society.
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