Black people connecting and conversing about books is not a new phenomenon. We are a diaspora rich in intelligence and curiosity. From the great libraries and universities in Mali to the rich educational legacy of this country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Black people have always exuded scholarly excellence. Reading, debating, and creating are simply a part of our existence. So it comes as no surprise, to me at least, that given the growth of video platform access and a pandemic that limited our ability to interact collectively in person Black people would assemble more often to discuss the horde of books
According to a 2020 report, there were over 5 million Americans that participated in book clubs with women making up most of those members. These book clubs lead participant discussions, author Q&As, and socially connect members, now over across state and country lines with the aid of video platforms and social media. It is with this backdrop that Black book clubs played their most important role recently since the Civil Rights era. Robert Fleming explained the importance of literary societies, groups, and book clubs in his blog post on AALBC:
“With the resurgence of Black pride and the Afrocentric movement of the 1960s and 1970s, African-Americans of all ages sought out books which strongly reinforced positive images of themselves and their communities.”
- Unemployment due to pandemic lockdowns
- Hyper political polarization in the national and global arena
- Police brutality and murders of Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ citizens
- Continued attack on literary content through book banning
- Disappearance of Black females in our community
- Etc. etc. etc.
Black readers needed a space. A space where they could converse with other Black people and not only chat about the plot twists of the book of the month but also to validate their experience in a world where their existence didn’t matter and in some cases was out right refuted. Black women specifically needed platforms as they collectively faced the most egregious and most sustained attacks on their character, bodies and even their hair. The connections that all Black readers needed couldn’t be found in your friendly neighborhood library book chat. Black readers needed to talk plainly and know that the listener understood the speaker. Black book clubs filled and have always filled this void flawlessly.
Black “book clubs” take on so many forms. Some are solely online like the Black Men Read adult male book club and Book Girl Magic There are some that target specific genres like Black romance books like The Black Romance Book Club Whatever the format, genre, or age group Black book clubs showed up for Black readers in an amazing way.
Resist Booksellers will always make space for Black book clubs on our platforms. We firmly believe reading is always better together. Happy Reading!