BIPOC Literature: Staff Recommendations from Black, Indigenous, and POC Writers

Given the current state of the world, it is more important than ever that we are united as human beings. Divisive issues should serve to remind us that we have much more in common than things that divide us. In standing with out black community, each of our bloggers and editors selected a novel they loved by black, indigenous, or POC authors. We hope this list serves as a reminder to spread love to your fellow man, and adds some new reading material from a wide variety of voices in our community!


Editor-In-Chief Mackenzie King

Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, is about a family who lives in the South Side of Chicago as they await the arrival of a life insurance check. It explores how each family member copes with their disillusionment of the American Dream while, at the same time, trying to improve their lives. The play helps to understand the limited opportunities that this family has and how the world around them is intent on keeping it that way. It is a powerful story, and very well written and illuminating. The characters are complex and their motivations are each different and shaped by how they have been treated by a systemically racist society up to this point. It is painful to read at times—and that makes it all the more important to do so.


Communications Coordinator Roxanne Bingham

Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give follows 16-year-old Starr Carter, a black girl who lives in a predominantly white school. At a young age, she has to learn to navigate the two different worlds. She has always felt out of place in her school and knows she isn’t treated like everyone else. Her life is turned upside down when her childhood friend, Khalil, gets shot by a police officer at a party. This events causes her to re-think what she knows about the people in her life, and she realizes that her white friends don’t understand what she is forced to experience. When she goes to talk to the police, they are more concerned with Khalil’s character than with the events that took place. Starr is faced with a great injustice that should never have been present in society. She chases justice for her friend and learns the importance of a single voice.

This novel is extremely important as it mirrors current events and issues present in our society. A lot of districts have banned this book based on its language and graphic content, so it is important that people—especially students—have access to it. The message it conveys is very much applicable to current society, and everyone should hear it.


Managing Editor Jade Stanton

Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in 2002, following the events of 9/11, and tells the story of Shirin, a 16-year-old Muslim girl navigating high school. In addition to the typical struggles high-schoolers face, Shirin is regularly subjected to xenophobia, judgement, and stereotyping. Overwhelmed by these ever-present reminders of the dark side of humanity, Shirin has learned to build walls and block out the constant stream of negative attention she receives. Everything changes, though, when she meets Ocean—her lab partner who, impossibly, seems genuinely interested in getting to know her for who she really is. Shirin is caught trying to mix two seemingly irreconcilable worlds and worries about subjecting Ocean to the horrors she witnesses daily. Mafi’s semi-autobiographical novel sheds light on an often ignored perspective and paints in saddening detail the racism present in our world today.


Staff Writer Sharon Enck

Set in the deep South, The Color Purple by Alice Walker centers around a young black girl named Celie. Born into segregation, poverty, and extreme abuse, the story follows Celie in her quest to rejoin her sister, Nettie, escape the bonds of a dehumanizing marriage, and find herself. As uplifting as it is graphic in its description of Celie’s horrors, The Color Purple is an important piece of fiction. It was the first book, outside of school, that introduced me to the atrocities of being black in America. Its graphic descriptions of the mental and physical abuse, and the humiliation that Celie endured were jarring. At the time, I could have never imagined that kind of pain and suffering, and it opened my young eyes to the obstacles that people of color deal with every single day.


Staff Writer Abhilasha Mandal

Roma Tearne’s Brixton Beach is about nine-year-old Alice Fonseka, daughter of a Tamil father and Singhalese mother, who moves to Britain from Sri Lanka, the picturesque island that is fast being engulfed by the fires of a civil war in the ’70s. She leaves behind her mother’s family and her childhood friends, memories of the deep blue ocean imprinted on her mind forever. Exposed to racial violence from a young age thanks to the growing rift between the Tamil and Singhalese communities in Sri Lanka at the time, Alice faces a new form of hatred on the ship to England when she’s called a savage for wanting to eat with her hands. Alice’s mother fails to adjust to her strange new life in Britain, and it takes a toll on her marriage. As with most first-generation immigrant children, Alice Fonseka has to strive to find her racial identity, a struggle that is reflected later in her work as an artist and sculptor. She draws from the vivid memories of her childhood, picking rocks and shells on the beach beside her grandparents’ house. Brixton Beach is a saga of a family that was torn apart by civil unrest and migration. It paints the image of all the feelings that generations of immigrants have felt, and of how far social acceptance of people of color has progressed over the turn of the century.