Although she loved to read and lived minutes from the famous Tulsa Boulevard Black Wall Street, Ramonda Young hadn’t read a book by a black author until I attended it Langston UniversityHistorically prominent Black University in Oklahoma.
For Ramonda and her husband Derek Young, it made no sense to open the doors of Washington, D.C. Mahogany books, an independent library haven housing an impressive literary collection of black culture and history. Owning the store combines their love for business, books, and society while also providing essential access to writing and black heritage.
“Once I started reading black books, it was just a change in my life. And what better and more effective way to open a library that would allow others to access these books as well,” Ramunda told HuffPost.
Ramonda and Derek both express a deep understanding of the bleak future that awaits all of us if the Black Books are not preserved, taught, and remembered. Derek noted that it would create an opportunity to rewrite history, providing a fertile ground for events to repeat themselves and dismantling the ideals that blacks fought so hard to achieve.
“What we do with history and what we allow ourselves to forget creates a situation where people are no longer empowered or have the basis for us to resist,” Derek said. “Making these books accessible and available to the people is first and foremost about freedom. These words and this knowledge are about allowing people the ability to protect themselves, to remember their history, the traumas from which we have come, and the means to move forward.”
Ramonda also said that putting black books in the hands of young people is critical to generating empathy and future success, citing studies It shows when black and brown children read books in which they see themselves represented, they have better self-esteem and become better contributors.
“When young people come to our store, they are fascinated by it all books who have little black and brown faces on them,” she said. “They feel recognized and seen not only in books that talk about slavery or civil rights, but also They can be a little black kid who loves to skate or be a scientist. These images are powerful, not only for black and brown children, but for all children, because empathy arises from learning and understanding the experiences of others.”
Derek added that it can be very difficult to feel like a multifaceted person while also wading through the many stereotypes placed on blacks, and black men in particular. He said like books “What doesn’t kill you makes you blacker” by Damon Young and “beautiful struggle” By Ta-Nehisi Coates helps remind you of the complexities that are in all of us.
Derek laughed as he sat in front of a great show of FunkoPop Collectibles.
Reading black books is tantamount to actively participating in understanding black history and future. As Derek told HuffPost, “We have to listen to other people’s opinions and listen to other perspectives in order to grow into a more inclusive person.”
If you’d like to get involved in celebrating and keeping black literary culture alive, check out the list below for some Ramunda and Derrick book recommendations as well as more picks from Rick Griffith, part owner of the Denver Library Shopping in Mater.
HuffPost may receive input from purchases made via the links on this page. Each item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
A powerful memoir of essays about enduring societies’ expectations of being a black man
A journalistic endeavor that explores the origins of slavery and the ways in which it continues to permeate the present
A beautiful memoir depicting a father’s love and his sons’ journeys in a turbulent time
The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates was another book that Derek said depicted black men as complex individuals who challenge preconceptions that society places on them. Coates’ book talks about being just a guy who lives in an environment where people impose this mask on you, “You have to be tough, or you have to be.” I think this book has helped me feel at ease and peace in myself.” Guided by the power of a father’s love in a world not so kind to black men, The Beautiful Struggle tells of two boys on divergent paths navigating youth and adulthood in America.
A guide to intentional simplicity that celebrates the importance of black heritage
You may have heard of Marie Kondo and her attraction to clean spaces, but “The Afrominimalist Guide to Living with Less” explores the concept of free-form minimalism in mainstream white. The way the writer, Kristen Platt approaches it [minimalism] It comes from a very conscious black perspective on what it means to hold a value for things while also connecting a lot of cultural ideologies about why we consume,” Ramunda said.
A thought-provoking statement debunking the lies about the Black Panther Party
A biography that ignites activity, written by a woman from the Black Liberation Army
A critical book on understanding black femininity and racially charged feminism
When Griffith was asked to name some of his favorite black authors, she mentioned the works of the late Hook Bell and one of her most innovative books, Ain’t IA Woman, which deserves a place on every cross-feminist’s bookshelf. Hawkes’ writing examines every moving piece of the black woman’s experience from slavery women to racism within feminism and the ways in which society devalues black femininity.
A distinctive reflection on A Tribe Called Quest and the cultural significance of black music
Recommended by Griffiths, “Go Ahead In The Rain” by Hanif Abdel Raqeb is initially a love letter from a fan to popular hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. But it also tells us what the group really represents in the bigger picture of black culture and the people who listened to them.
A classic Baldwin’s work about an oppressive system and love finding a way
This iconic James Baldwin tale is fiction, yet reveals a very real truth about the ways in which the American justice system, historically, has used blacks as scapegoats, leading to false convictions and disrupting lives. “If Beale Street Talk” uses characters rich in memories to tell the story of a young couple in love, and when one of them is imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit, the effects on their families.
An essential book in helping build a true multiethnic democracy