It is true that 2021 ended with the loss of two Black literary titans, bell hooks and Greg Tate. Though their transitions brought mourning around the world, there is comfort in knowing that their legacies will remain on Earth through the wisdom and brightness of their books. These authors, along with Haitian American anthropologist, Michel-Rolph Trouillot and scholar, Shana L. Redmond, have made nonfiction contributions that move Black thought forward.
Their books are made to be read and revisited over time so that the ideas they embody will bring enlightenment and understanding of the Black struggle, and, most importantly, of how to survive and overcome.
“Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America” by Greg Tate
(Simon & Schuster)
The essential debut book of cultural critic Greg Tate is a lively and eclectic collection of his writings compiled from his years as a columnist at the Village Voice. Published in 1992, Tate’s book presents his visionary thesis on music and culture through a unique Black lens. Tate writes like no one else, he thinks like no one else and whether he is exploring the sound, style and musical detail of jazz or hip hop, dissecting Black cultural phenomena or injustices or giving lesser-known artists their due, his voice jumps from the page and reveals his ideas in a hip and singular language constructed by his own soulful accord.
“Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” by bell hooks
(South End Press, First edition)
bell hooks’ 1984 feminist theory manuscript makes an argument that Black women are left on the margins of feminist thought. hooks argues that books like 1963’s “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan addressed sexism toward white middle-class and wealthy women and that feminism as a whole does not take into account the intersections of race and class. hooks challenges the whiteness of the feminist community and was considered radical due to her expression that white feminism needs to be completely deconstructed and reorganized in a manner that would bring freedom to all.
“Everything Man: The form and function of Paul Robeson” by Shana L. Redmond
(Duke University Press)
Winner of the Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award, music scholar Shana L. Redmond examines the life and accomplishments of musician, athlete and activist Paul Robeson. “She follows his appearance throughout the twentieth century in the forms of sonic and visual vibration and holography; theater, art, and play; and the physical environment,” writes her publisher. It is known that Robeson was a great man and defender of those who could not defend himself. His legacy is further cemented through this book which breathes new life into this artist’s impacted and historical life.
“Trouillot Remixed: The Michel-Rolph Trouillot Reader” by Michel-Rolph Trouillot
(Duke University Press)
Haitian American anthropologist, Michel-Rolph Trouillot creates a collection of his writing that reveals the importance and potency of his work. “Throughout his career, the internationally renowned Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot unsettled key concepts in anthropology, history, postcolonial studies, Black studies, Caribbean studies, and beyond.” This reader includes the scholar’s famous writings as well as lesser-known pieces and offers an opportunity for readers to explore his vital contributions to Caribbean studies and to get a broad view of Trouillot’s theories and observations of the cultures and realm he so acutely studied.