2016 has definitely been a year. A year full of disappointing politics, pop culture phenomenons, cultural realizations, and memes to describe them all. And as challenging and enlightening this year has been, we got through it pretty fast. Individually, some people made it through with music, others made it with through with the help of television. Personally, I found my assistance in reading. So, as a yearly wrap up, here are my three favorite reads of this year in no particular order.
NOTE: most of these books were not published during the year of 2016, but I feel that the topics of these works pertain to everything that has happened in the year. Also, all of these books are written by a person of color.
1. Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis (2016)
Starting a little bit out of order, this is one of the books I've read more recently. I ordered from this book from Amazon strictly from the title and the reputation of the author, political activist Angela Davis. I read her book Woman, Race, & Class a couple years ago and the message she convey has stuck with me since then. So, from that I decided to take a crack at her newest publication.
I began this book on Tuesday, November 8th, also known as Election Night 2016. A short but thorough read, Davis dives into the how different movements intersect with one another and how the only way for a struggle to go forward is to support the movements it intersects with.
The book really gave me something to think about. As a young woman, both socially aware and very interested in activism, it's important to realize that there are other movements that I need to be aware of and informed about. I finished it by the end of the week
2. A Taste of Power - A Black Woman's Story by Elaine Brown (1992)
Among the older books that I read in 2016, Elaine Brown's memoir has been my go to book all year long. I discovered A Taste of Power while I was traveling from Pennsylvania to California (on a long Amtrak voyage). I was wandering around the two story Barnes and Nobles in Baltimore harbor trying to find something to keep my interest during my train ride when I stumbled across it. I knew who she was because of my growing interest for the history of the Black Panther Party (being from Black and Philadelphia, I am invested in knowing all I need to about Panthers and their background) but I didn't know about her life. So, I picked it up.
As soon as I opened the book, I identified with Brown. Not only did we have similar back stories - both grew up as only children in a not-so-pristine neighborhood in Philadelphia - we both went through various difficulties that created our character. Because I was/am a young black woman going through a change, I found myself constantly returning to her words to gain from her life story. I still learn from this book even though I've read it multiple times in its entirety.
3. It's BiggerThan Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post Hip-Hop Generation by M. K. Asante, Jr. (2008)
After using It's Bigger Than Hip Hop to write my final graduate thesis, I lend it to a friend who became interested in the study of hip hop, and it slipped my mind. After about a year and a half, I opened my mailbox and there sat this book. For the second time, M. K. Asante, Jr had me hooked just like that.
With everything going on in the hip hop community today, this reread was right on time. The book presses on the fact that hip hop and social justice goes right along with one another. Although published in 2009, this book makes points that are very relevant. It looks at our generation and how hip hop is changing it. I'll most likely read it again and again.
Though these books are about a number of different things, I feel that they make a perfect collection for everyone from the young social activists to the experienced thinkers of 2016 and beyond.