20 Books by BIPOC Women to Educate and Empower
Kylie Flynn she/her
There is nothing better than a book to educate yourself on a new topic. But how are you supposed to know what to read? Look no further! The following is a list inspired by popular BIPOC book content creators detailing 20 empowering and educational books by BIPOC women. Every book on this list was published in the past five years, giving fresh information and takes you might not have heard before. If you’re not a fan of nonfiction or memoir reading, there is no need to fear as several fiction and poetry options are included. Though you might not turn to a novel for a quick fact or statistic, allowing yourself to adopt a new point of view for a few hundred pages can teach you just as much. For more detailed plot descriptions, click on the title of the books to land on their Goodreads page and make sure to check content warnings if certain topics are sensitive to you (https://booktriggerwarnings.com/index.php?title=Welcome).
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
This book is for you if you want a comprehensive view of the ways mainstream feminism excludes women most in need of it. You should also read this book if you want to better recognize the role White privilege plays in your feminism. With Hood Feminism, Kendall asks: “How can we stand in solidarity as a movement when there is a distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?”
White Tears, Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Colour by Ruby Hamad
This book is for you if you want to see how White feminism and pop culture actively participated in the oppression of women of colour throughout history. Hamad comments on pop culture and media, such as The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Handmaid’s Tale, and current political and cultural climates as they reflect the actions of the past.
It’s Not About the Burqa by Mariam Khan
This book is for you if you want to read about the modern experience of Muslim women in the West. The book is comprised of essays by seventeen Muslim women who share their thoughts and experiences surrounding faith, feminism, and sexuality within a racist country.
This book is for you if you still need to make sense of 2020. Smith wrote this short collection of essays during the first wave of COVID-19, touching on the murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism revealed by the pandemic.
This book is for you if you want to read more about asexuality and the way our society sees sex. Not only does Chen include analyses of sexuality, but she writes through her own experience as an asexual person and includes interviews with various ace individuals.
This book is for you if you have a hard time with change. Shraya, as a trans woman, musician, artist, writer, model, and teacher, is no stranger to the fear of change and reflects on her experiences to inspire her readers to find the beauty in personal transformation.
This book is for you if you want to read about the impacts of sexual assault and the ways that justice systems fail survivors. Miller, known widely as Emily Doe, the Brock Turner Stanford assault victim, takes back her identity in this educational and inspiring memoir.
Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner
This book is for you if you want to read about grief. In this memoir, Zauner, also known by her stage name Japanese Breakfast, writes about growing up Korean American in predominately White spaces and how her mother’s death returned her to the parts of her identity that these experiences erased.
Ohpikiihaakan‑Ohpihmeh (Raised Somewhere Else): A 60s Scoop Adoptee’s Story of Coming Home by Colleen Cardinal
This book is for you if you want to read about the 60s Scoop and missing and murdered Indigenous women. In this memoir, Cardinal shares her experience as a 60s Scoop adoptee and the empowering story of reclaiming her identity that followed.
For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez
This book is for you if you want to read about institutional racism. Rodriguez details her own painful experiences and analyzes decoloniality, toxic masculinity, and politics of respectability. This memoir also offers tools of support to help BIPOC women claim space within oppressive systems.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
This book is for you if you want to read about mental health. Transcendent Kingdom is a novel about faith, science, and love, following a Ghanaian family who moves to the US. The story centres Gifty, a Stanford neuroscience student, as she grapples with the mental illness, addiction, and loss in her family.
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
This book is for you if you want to read about the immigrant experience. In this short story collection, Thammavongsa represents several Laos immigrant families as they find stability among shifting and unfamiliar cultures, languages, and values.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
The author says it best on the dedication page: “to queer brown girls, this is for you.” This YA contemporary romance follows Nishat, a young lesbian Bengali girl, as she searches for acceptance and self-understanding while discussing topics of cultural appropriation, racism, and homophobia.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
This book is for you if you want to read about Ojibwe practices, beliefs, and history. This YA thriller follows Daunis as she goes undercover to solve a murder using chemistry and traditional Ojibwe medicine while learning about grief, identity, and family.
Love in Color by Bolu Babalola
This book is for you if you like folk tales and mythology. This collection of stories reimagines a combination of West African folktales, Greek myths, and ancient legends from the Middle East to bring diversity to the classic tropes and tales of love.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
This book is for you if you like Sci-Fi and Dystopia. This novel follows Frida, a daughter of Chinese immigrants who feels like she’s failed them apart from raising her daughter. However, when Frida makes a parenting mistake, she is sent to a program to learn how to be a good mother.
Required Readings for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee
This book is for you if you want to read about racism and privilege on university campuses. This novel follows Savannah, a Black college freshman, as she uncovers her academic institution’s racist past and present and navigates class disparity, microaggressions, sexism, and more.
Home. Girl. Hood. by Ebony Stewart
This book is for you if you want to read about empowerment and intersecting identities. This collection of poems is an ode to Black womxn, unique in its formatting and vernacular and covering sex, queer love, feminism, gender, intersectionality, and sexual assault.
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
This book is for you if you want to read about love for people, land, and water. This Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection covers subjects such as Indigenous culture, mental illness, Latinx culture, addiction, violence, and identity.
This book is for you if you want to read about the experience of a white-passing Indigenous woman in Canada. Through its heartbreaking humour, Cunningham’s poetry collection touches on residential schools, intergenerational trauma, systemic racism, and mental illness.