The Black Voices Project
A virtual book club uplifting black voices
The purpose of this digital space
The Black Voices Project is a virtual Black book club and community dedicated to uplifting Black literary/creative voices through a range of mediums including books, essays, podcasts, and more! Our hope is to facilitate meaningful conversations about systemic racism and Black history while addressing current political, racial, and social issues impacting Black culture.
We will read together, learn together and grow together!
Book Selection: On the 1st of every month, ULMS will pick a text to read for the next 30 days. The text will differ each month ranging from non-fiction to fiction and even poetry. Each book selected will all focus on race, anti-racism, and/or Black culture.
Discussion Questions: We know everyone reads at their own pace. Feel free to break out into smaller groups with your friends if that makes you more comfortable! Discussion questions will be posted each month on this page and in our private Facebook group (details below) for those who would like to start a small reading circle in their workspaces or to think through personally.
Monthly Zoom Group: During the first week of each month, there will be a live zoom discussion to cultivate conversations on the entirety of the text from the previous month’s book pick. Zoom details will be shared in the tab below!
Join the Book Club! Ready to participate in the dopest virtual Black book club ever? Head to the join section and get into the loop!
Here you’ll find books we have scheduled to read in the coming months. Please note, this list is subject to change:
- August: “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson
- January: “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin
- February: “White Space, Black Hood” by Sheryll Cashin
- March: “The Secret Life of Church Ladies” by Deesha Philyaw
- April: “Abolition. Feminism. Now.” by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, Beth E. Richie
- May: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
- June: “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
- July: No Book Selection
- January: “Me & White Supremacy” by Layla Saad
- February: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
- March: “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
- April: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
- May: “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
- June: “The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.
- July: No Book Selection
- August: “Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells” by Michelle Duster
- September: “Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas
- October: “The Matter of Black Lives” by Jelani Cobb
- November: “Black Buck” by Mateo Askaripour
- December: No Book Selection
- August: “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
- September: “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine
- October: “One Person, No Vote” by Carol Anderson
- November: “Kindred” by Octavia Butler
- December: No Book Selection
Although Black lives have always mattered (and Black people have been dying at the hands of systemic racism long before this year), something about this moment feels different. According to the New York Times, between 15 million and 26 million people in the U.S. participated in demonstrations in the weeks following George Floyd’s murder… making this the largest movement in our country’s history.
"This is a movement; not a moment."
Join the Club!
Subscribe to our book club mailing list.
We’re excited to read with you! Once you officially subscribe to the Black Voices Project, you will get instant access to:
- Monthly book wrap up Zoom meeting invitation
- Adv. notice to claim free books
- Mini monthly newsletter
- Access to our private Black Voices Project Facbook group
- Free discounts and perks for Seattle Arts & Lectures events and tickets!
Once you’re subscribed, we’ll reach out to you with this month’s book pick and some think questions to get you started. If you don’t have our selected book, see below for ways to read along!
Tune in to discuss!
Join us at the end of each month for our wrap-up zoom discussion! We’ll have an in depth discussion and round-table analysis of the book, it’s themes, and real world application. You can also check in with our Facebook group for real time engagement, some surprise giveaways, announcements and more!
In order to truly understand this moment and our role in it, we must know how history brought us here and make a serious commitment to amplify Black voices.
We are in the middle of a collective commitment right now, to #DoBetter, dismantle white supremacy, and fight for equity for all. It’s as if, as a nation, we have hit a boiling point and are suddenly wondering: How did we get here, and what can we do about it now?
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Here's what we're reading:
We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
Charmaine Wilkerson is an American writer who has lived in the Caribbean and is based in Italy. She is a former journalist and recovered marathon runner whose award-winning short stories can be found in various UK and US anthologies and magazines. Black Cake (2022) is her first novel.
“You were never just you, and you owed it to the people you cared about to remember that. Because the people you loved were part of your identity, too. Perhaps the biggest part.”
“And what about a person’s life? How do you make a map of that? The borders people draw between themselves. The scars left along the ground of one’s heart.”
“Question yourself, yes, but don’t doubt yourself. There’s a difference.
“More people’s lives have been shaped by violence than we like to think. And more people’s lives have been shaped by silence than we think.”
“The beauty of a thing justified its plunder.
And nothing was more beautiful than a girl who was fearless.”
“When people didn’t understand something, they often felt threatened. And when people felt threatened, they often turned to violence.”
“Are you going to let someone else’s view of who you are and what you should do hold you back?”
Our goal is to make these books, podcasts, poems and conversations accessible for anyone who is willing to show up for the Black community. We know that anti-racism work doesn’t stop when the protests end. Anti-racism work is a practice! It requires intention and commitment.
“Revolution is not a one-time event.” - Audre Lorde
PREVIOUS BOOK SELECTIONS
Books We've Finished Reading
If it’s your first time here, below are some of the books we’ve read in the past and discussed together as a group!
How to Read Along With Us
Don’t have a copy of our selected book? No worries! Each book is accessible digitally via the Seattle Public Library (SPL). All you need is a free library card. To get one, simply click the button below and we’ll help you get started! If you don’t have a Seattle based address, you can always get a free eCard and access the book via the King County Library System (KCLS). If all else fails, you can also check out the library’s audiobook option (also free)!
Build your library
Get a free copy of this month's book!
Owning a personal collection of books is a special opportunity each of us should have. We want to help you get started!
If you love that “new book” smell or simply enjoy the traditional flip of a real page, this one is for you! Each month, we will send the physical version of our selected book of the month to the first 10 readers who reply to our BVP monthly newsletter. If you miss your chance to claim a book, don’t worry! You can always come back next month and try again.
RESTRICTIONS: First come, first served. One book per household.
Since the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Shaun Fuhr, Manuel Ellis, and others– race has been top of mind in our nation’s consciousness. Those around the nation are reaffirming that, “Yes, Black Lives do Matter”! It is clear that people want to do better. Now, communities are looking for ways to learn how to show up even further for the Black community in this time and all time.
"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers" - MLK Jr.
As an official member of the Black Voices Project, you will have access to exclusive discount opportunities, tickets, events, and more provided by our friends from Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL)!