Getting a late start on this one! I’ve already begun reading but realized just now that I failed to post my reading list!
In honor of Black History Month, I’m reading works written by (or featuring) African-American authors (characters). And this month will be my first non-fiction reading as well!
To the list:
Week One: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.
Diversity: From what I can tell, it’s a little Harry Potter-ish, but set in Nigeria, featuring an albino Igbo girl who was born in the USA but moves to Nigeria as a preteen, and discovers that her “flaw” of being an albino is exactly the thing that makes her magical. Also, written by a Nigerian-American author.
Week Two: Celia, A Slave by Melton McLauren
Diversity: The true-life case of a slave girl named Celia who challenged the law on record in Missouri after she killed her slave owner while he was raping her. Picked this one up at the Salvation Army (I know it’s going to make me furious, but it took place about 45 miles from here, and it will be good evidence for how slavery still affects public perception of African-Americans in this area).
Week Three: Black Boy by Richard Wright
Diversity: The memoir of a young black man growing up in Jim Crow era South. Decided on this one when I was reading curriculum lists and kept seeing this title pop up. Much to my chagrin, I had no idea of its existence previously, which fired me up to read it.
Week Four: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Diversity: Written by an African-American woman about a young woman who is pulled back and forth through time, from the Civil Rights movement of the late 20th century to being a kitchen slave. Again, I’m so ashamed that I’ve never before heard of Octavia Butler, which has further deepened my resolve to build diversity into my own reading and my classroom.
I know that having a Black History Month is controversial. I’ve always been a fan of this month though I can understand that having a “month” can be reductionist and offensive to African-Americans who have experienced a positive presence in the classroom, in the news, in society, etc., ONLY in February and possibly on MLK, Jr. Day.
I’ve chosen to observe Black History Month for this project because I can’t recall having observed it while I was in school, and the school I teach at is doing nothing to observe the month either. Even though it may be just a small step, I see it as a valuable step toward creating equity in this region.