As a big Black Romance reader, I sometimes find myself in this weird space, where people who aren’t Black ask me for recommendations on books that I’ve read. And then I’m like, eehhh well it’s all Black. Black couples, living Black a** lives, with Black people issues and Black af experiences. So when my kind and loving non-Black friends want to read what I’ve been reading, I kinda feel stuck. I go through my mental Rolodex of Black books that I think are non-Black folks appropriate. Not because I want to coddle them, but because everybody’s not at the same level. And if you’re gonna get this Black life experiences, you gotta walk before you can run.
Now I know some of you are going to say, “It’s not for everybody” or “Black Romance is for Black people, duh” or “Can we please stop trying to conform for these white folks and keep something for ourselves? Damn!” And I would say, Yup. You’re right. Black romance is not like Barack Obama. Yes, he’s Black, but he’s everybody’s president. Black Romance is like Malcolm X, post- the Nation of Islam; peaceful and loving, yet still Black af. Because Black romance is raw, passionate, authentic, vulnerable, painful, gut-wrenching, silly, fun and most importantly beautiful. I just love these stories because it’s a powerful way to connect us to the human experience through the Black lens. And honestly, that’s my preferred lens.
So when I was thinking about what books to recommend or suggest to non-Black folks to read, I had to ask myself why is this important? If it’s not for them, why do you need to have any suggestions for them to read? The reason is in my life, I have learned through two ways; life experiences and books. Whether it be getting these college degrees, getting into fights, quiting my job, crying after a fight, studying for a test, reading a self-help book or a romance book, I learned something. And when I think about why Black authors write some of these books, I know it’s for those of us who don’t feel seen and whose stories aren’t told. Its to tell the stories of people like me.
I honestly think it’s important for me to recommend the right types because of the consequences. I don’t want for non-Black folks to read the types of stories that for us might be a story of survival, but for others fulfill and perpetuate a long-held trope or stereotype of who they think Black people are; versus who we really are. So I always go with love. Because as clique as it sounds, love is really universal. Yes, love has culture, language, touch, feel, and passion. But we understand that regardless of the type of romantic relationship you’re in, love has a bottom line. It is a situation or circumstance where the potential or possibility of joining together occurs. The situations vary, but the bottom line is there is a time-sensitive or timeless joining. And so regardless of race, culture, sexuality, nation, language, we understand love.
So for me, living in a society where the idea of Black people and culture continues to be otherized and dehumanized, it is these stories that tell our truth. These stories show us off in the magical and beautiful light we have always and will continue to reside in. They tell the stories of real people, living real lives, as they are. So yeah, when non-Black folks ask me about what they should read, I think about it. I take it seriously because I know that the reading experience of someone who reads Black love is and can be transformative.
So I will say this; if you’re not Black, I highly recommend that you read a book by a Black author. And to be honest, pick love, cause its kinda awesome and probably the best genre (in my opinion). And just feel it. It is so awesome, and just…air. Once you read a good one, you’ll get it.