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:
- May: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
- 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
- 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:
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author’s girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves’ garden do not bloom. Pecola’s life does change- in painful, devastating ways. What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child’s yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons’s most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye , Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.
“A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment.”
“Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.”
“We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.”
“And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.”
“If happiness is anticipation with certainty, we were happy.”
“Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs—all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.”
“Sunk in the grass of an empty lot on a spring Saturday, I split the stems of milkweed and thought about ants and peach pits and death and where the world went when I closed my eyes.”
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)!