Sexual assault is something that many women face – particularly Black women who are disproportionately at risk of sexual violence.
Statistics show every 1 in 4 Black girls will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18 and it’s something that we have to work tirelessly to eradicate.
One of the best ways to do so is through education and creating a community that is even more knowledgeable in order to create actionable change and protect Black women and girls.
To mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’ve listed some essential books that should be on everyone’s reading list, highlighting the many injustices and issues women face while encouraging healing and the need for conversation.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye follows an eleven-year-old Pecola during a devastating time in her life as she is sexually assaulted and goes through a spiral of self-doubt and isolation.
This is a good cathartic read to feel less alone during a time of tragedy and is the perfect companion in the process of confrontation.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
A place with no monsters seems like the ideal location to raise children and the fictional city of Lucille boasts about being just that. But the protagonist Jam, begins to unravel this fantasy when one day, her mother’s painting comes alive.
Jam and Pet, the name given to the alive painting, expose the secrets that the town holds and calls out the monsters that hide in plain sight in Lucille.
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi teaches readers how important it is to listen to children when they say something wrong has taken place.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Celie is a character that a lot of Black women can relate to. From the happenings of her life to the sentiments she expresses, she is someone that others can see their reflection in.
Her letters to God and then to her sister Nettie that make up the composition of the novel exemplifies the importance of community in the process of healing. It is with the help of the women in her life, like Shug Avery, that Celie is able to begin to love herself and clean the wounds of the trauma she endured.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Probably the most controversial on the list, My Sister, the Serial Killer is about exactly what the title states.
Ayoola has killed the third boyfriend she’s had so far and calls her sister, Korede, to help clean up the scene. Korede begins to question why this keeps happening and if the stories Ayoola is telling are true.
Oyinkan Braithewaite’s writing raises a lot of questions abour what justice is and how justice should be played out. What is proper punishment and is killing a justifiable defence mechanism? How is victimhood assigned and does it ever switch? Korede and Ayoola’s journey brings up all these questions and more things that need to be seriously contemplated.
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
This classic dramatic poem documents a variety of women in varying situations that manage to triumph at the end. The stage direction and chronicles of the women in this play of poems show the art in everyday life – from the struggles to the successes.
The prose reminds readers that there is beauty even in the struggles we face and that the rainbow at the end of difficult times is worth surviving through it.
For Colored Girls is a reason to find a smile when it’s hard to find reason for joy elsewhere.
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
The vulnerability and realness that Gabrielle Union shared within this memoir is admirable. It is easy to form an opinion on the movie star but We’re Going to Need More Wine gives people a chance to get to really know her – and the real her is full of experiences and lessons that can resonate with many.