From award-winning books like The Color Purple and The Hate You Give being banned from libraries and academic curricula, to a number of bills being introduced to censor educational discussion about Black history and racial justice in schools, conservatives have set out on an “anti-woke” agenda to suppress the stories and voices of Black writers and educators.
More than 1,600 books were banned in 138 school districts across 32 states between 2021 and 2022, according to a report by PEN America. The vast majority of challenged and banned books feature BIPOC or LGBTQ+ characters, discuss gender, sexuality and race in America, or are written by Black and POC authors.
As calls to ban books by Black authors increase amid ongoing critical race theory debates and attempts to ban diversity, equity and inclusion, it’s important that we keep them in circulation.
Here are 10 banned Black books that you should be reading.
Toni Morrison’s novels, including The Bluest Eye, are among the most challenged and banned books due to their honest narratives about the Black American experience. Beloved follows the life of Sethe, a formerly enslaved woman who is haunted by her traumatic past.
The 1619 Project is an award-winning collection of essays and poetry that focuses on the untold history and consequences of American slavery. Currently, the book is banned in Florida public schools under Gov. DeSantis.
All Boys Aren’t Blue explores Johnson’s journey growing up Black and queer in New Jersey and Virginia. The American Library Association named this memoir as the second most challenged book of 2022.
Determined to save her father, an innocent Black man on death row, and her brother, who’s been wrongly accused of killing a white girl, Tracy Beaumont sets out to investigate the truth. This gripping debut novel examines racial injustice in the American criminal legal system.
The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most destructive acts of racial violence in U.S. history. Award-winning author Brandy Colbert tells an unflinching account of the 1921 events in this YA nonfiction book.
Junauda Petrus weaves together spirituality, magic realism, African diasporic futurism, Caribbean culture and young queer Black love in this Coretta Scott King Book Award winner.
In Black Looks, bell hooks critically analyzes how Blackness and Black people are represented in media and popular culture. The trailblazing feminist scholar draws from personal experience to construct new ways for readers to talk about race and representation.
Told in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming shares the moving story of Woodson’s childhood as a young Black girl growing up in South Carolina and New York during the 1960s and 70s.
Mikki Kendall uses an intersectional framework to assert that mainstream feminism has excluded the needs of Black women. She challenges harmful myths and reveals how the movement has failed to address important issues like poverty and reproductive justice.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson examines how the United States has used a hidden caste system to create a strict racial hierarchy, with Black folks in the lowest caste. She outlines the repercussions of caste on politics, culture and our everyday lives.