Reading list: Black Bodies, White Spaces

Ahead of our Black History Month event, a complementary reading list, with authors from across the diaspora, telling stories of revolution, hidden history, and getting into good trouble. These nine recommendations come from the featured speakers of Black Bodies, White Spaces, on Wednesday, February 28 in Toronto. 

Written by or about women

Miss World 1970: How I Entered A Pageant and Wound Up Making History

Jennifer Hosten (2020)
The first woman of colour to win Miss World, tells her story: a barrier-breaking win and her subsequent globe-trotting career as a development worker and diplomat.

Caste: The Origins of our Discontent

Isobel Wilkinson (2020)
Examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

No Country Woman

Zoya Patel (2018)
A story of never knowing where you belong – about not feeling represented in the media you consumed, not being connected to the culture of your forebears, not having the respect of your peers.

North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955

Sarah-Jane Mathieu (2010)
Examines life in Canada for the estimated 5,000 blacks, both African Americans and West Indians, who immigrated to Canada after the end of Reconstruction in the United States.

Images Matter: Archive, Photography and the African Diaspora in Europe

Tina Campt (2012)
Traces the emergence of a black European subject by examining how specific black European communities used family photography to create forms of identification and community.

The Long Road Home: On Blackness and Belonging

Debra Thompson (2022)
A moving personal story and a vital examination of the nuances of racism in the United States and Canada. Above all, it is about the power of freedom and the dreams that link and inspire Black people across borders from the perspective of one who has deep ties to, critiques of, and hope for both countries.

Revolutions and Diasporas

Angry Queer Somali Boy: a Complicated Memoir 

Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali (2019)
Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia’s societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. 

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

C. L. R. James (1938)
Examines the brutal conditions of slavery as well as the social and political status of the slave-owners, the Caribbean economy, and the European feudal system during the era before the Haitian Revolution, and chronicles the dramatic rise of the Revolution’s charismatic leader, Toussaint L’Ouverture.

The Groundings with My Brothers

Walter Rodney (1971)
A classic work published in the heady days of anti-colonial revolution which follows the global circulation of emancipatory ideas, from the black students of North America to the Rasta counter-culture of Jamaica and beyond. 

Essays & Poems

The Souls of Black Folk

W.E.B. DuBois, (1903)
A seminal work in the history of sociology and a cornerstone of African-American literature, containing several essays on race. 


Sylvia Hamilton  (2022)
A poetry collection that chronicles the experiences of Black people, especially of Black women, in their quest for self- determination and their desire to live full, complex, unencumbered lives.

Cahier d’un retour au pays natal

Aimé Césaire (1939)
A book-length poem by Martinican writer Aimé Césaire, considered his masterwork, that mixes poetry and prose to express his thoughts on the cultural identity of black Africans in a colonial setting.

Attend the Toronto event

On Wednesday, February 27, at 7 p.m. come out for Black Bodies, White Spaces — an event honouring Black History Month, female creatives and their expression. Save the event to your calendar, and RSVP to save your seat.