Black History Month Lite: 5 Black Books That Aren’t About “Black Stuff”

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Here it is the last week of Black History Month and yours truly is just getting around to acknowledging it. Where are my manners? Hold on, let me get my tongue out of my cheek here. The thing is, I don’t know who Black History Month is really for and I don’t understand why Black American history isn’t the same thing as American history. I mean, historically speaking, Black people have pretty much been here since the beginning so, it’s not clear to me why our contributions ā€“ which are far too many to be reviewed in the shortest month of the year ā€“ are segregated from the mainstream. But that’s just me. And I don’t want to be perceived as ungrateful for the opportunity to shine a light on some fantastic Black people.

But I have noticed that a lot of non-Black people get kind of uncomfortable when Black History Month comes up. They’re not really sure if they’re supposed to be celebrating with like, a special fried chicken dinner, or they should be feeling extra guilty and force themselves to watch Roots. It’s confusing. I get it. And then of course, there are the folks who really want to get involved with the Black experience during the month of February. And they are willing to go the extra distance and watch a movie or attend an art exhibit or lecture about Black people. Some people even commit to reading an entire book in February written by a Black author.

But here’s the thing about those books by Black authors. Too many times they are really depressing because they’re always about “Black stuff.” I read that on a comment thread once. Really. The complaint was that Black books were too depressing to read because they are always about “black stuff like slavery and the civil rights and discrimination.” Well, who wants to read about that? I don’t. And that’s why I’ve developed this short list (remember we only have six days left of February) of books by Black authors that are not about Black stuff. And please note that all of these books have been vetted and read by me to ensure that “Black stuff” does not appear in a single one of them, just great characters, love, life, humor and a couple of tasty recipes. Enjoy!

1. 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. Call it chick lit or women’s fiction, but this is an excellent novel about an “ugly duckling” who grows into a gorgeous swan and gets the guy. It’s fresh and funny and just too delicious. And when you’re done and dying for more, read the follow-up, The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men.

Does this book look like it has too much Black Stuff? No worries. It's just a really good book.
Does this book look like it has too much Black Stuff? No worries. It’s just a really good book.
2. Orange Mint & Honey by Carleen Brice, A great mother-daughter story set in Colorado. Now you know a story can’t be too Black if it takes place in Colorado. There’s first love, music and a cookie recipe that makes this a really sweet piece of fiction.

3. The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate. This is a quiet novel about family, relationships and addiction in a middle class family. Martha Southgate is an amazing writer and this book, her latest doesn’t disappoint.

4. Waiting in Vain by Colin Channer. If anyone thinks Fifty Shades of Grey is a romance then they should have their head examined. On the other hand, Waiting in Vain is a story that redefines romance and passion between two beautiful, three dimensional characters with unique back stories. The action zigzags across the globe from Jamaica to London to Brooklyn and will leave any reader panting for more.

5. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. Yes, I have to add a YA book here because, kids want to read Black books that aren’t too Black too. Here’s a great one about a multi-culti group of middle school kids who have plans to rig the student council elections. It’s a clever, funny, underdog tale with a main character, Jackson Greene, who happens to be a Black teen.

There you have it. What books would you add to this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments. Let’s see how long this list can be. And sure, I could have added my own novel, Substitute Me but that would be kind of obvious. (wink, wink).


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