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5 Self-Help Books Written by Black Women

Photo courtesy of BELatina.

We often avoid self-help books or doubt their effectiveness because, for years, the literary industry has been designed by and for white voices.

Fortunately, times have changed, our communities have carved out a space for themselves in all spheres, and today the literary world is different.

That’s why this list of self-help books written by Black women is more important than ever.

These are personal stories, unique perspectives, and journeys through the valley of pain that make us feel seen and represented.

“Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good (Emergent Strategy)” by Adrienne Maree Brown

Pleasure Activism

This book, where Adrienne Maree Brown is both an author and editor, takes us through a journey of re-discovering the relations between our bodies, pleasure, and politics. It aims to show us ways to get closer to various kinds of pleasure and liberation, and justice. 

Whether finding pleasure through sex, drugs, self-care, your wardrobe, or working or your relationship with pleasure while fighting cancer, “Pleasure Activism” suggests recognizing pleasure as a measure of freedom. It helps us explore what makes us feel good and how to achieve more of that and decrease the obstacles we have or impose ourselves in our search for pleasure. 

This, of course, has to be both on a personal and collective level, as is the nature of true activism. 

“Pleasure Activism” is available in Kindle, printed, and audio here

“Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person” by Shonda Rhimes 

Shonda Rhimes, the creator, writer, and executive producer behind Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and (most recently) Inventing Anna –in short, one of the most influential people in the TV world– wrote this book as a testimony of the year when she decided to do things differently; when she chose not to allow fear to make the calls for her. 

This book is a pure delight to read as Shonda’s series is a delight to watch; it shows us Shonda’s experiment when she decided to say “Yes” to the things that made her most nervous, instead of saying “No” because of fear. The hilarious, poignant, and intimate style of this book won’t let you stop, and, in the meantime, as you learn about Shonda’s life, you will pose some serious questions to yourself.  

“Year of Yes” is available in Kindle, printed, and audio versions here.

“What I Know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey

“What I Know for Sure” is a collection of fourteen-years columns published in O, The Oprah Magazine. These re-edited columns are meditations on joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power that allow you to elaborate in every-deeper ways about these topics and use the tools you need to work through that day. 

This is the kind of book worth reading as an oracle and listening to what Oprah has learned through her experiences. You can just open it every day on a random page and see what gift you are given to reflect upon each day.

“What I Know for Sure” is available in Kindle and audio versions here.

“Parenting for Liberation: A Guide for Raising Black Children” by Trina Greene Brown 

The fact that Black parents have to consider additional difficulties in raising a child –a task of high complexity for any committed parent– is painful proof of how far-reaching structural racism is. 

As Trina Greene Brown observed and analyzed her own parenting behaviors –such as asking her seven-year-old boy to report every ten to fifteen minutes that he was still alive whenever he went outside to play with his friends–, she also tried to understand their deeper origin conscious or subconscious consequences for her child, and how to do things differently. 

The challenge is enormous, but the reward of raising for freedom is even greater. 

“Parenting for Liberation” is available in Kindle and audio versions here.

“The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love” by Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body Is Not an Apology movement is proof that poetry changes lives and may help thousands continue living. Sonya Renee Taylor reached the sentence “your body is not an apology” while preparing for a poetry slam with her teammate Natasha, who has cerebral palsy. While trying to comfort her, a beam of light and understanding brought them together. 

“Your body is not an apology” made Natasha feel understood and gave her the safe space she needed to cry, but also made Sonya look back at herself and see she didn’t have to apologize for the size, shape, or color of her body. 

This was the beginning of the Radical Self-Love idea outlined in this book. And while you decide to take the time to read it, enjoy Sonya’s poetry: 

“The Body Is Not an Apology” is available in Kindle and audio versions here.

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