The Black Voices Project
A virtual book club uplifting black voices
welcome!
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 for those who would like to start a small reading circle in their workspaces and 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. 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! 

Make sure you join us at the beginning of next month for our wrap-up zoom discussion on this month’s book!

Here are the upcoming Zoom meeting details: 

Date: September 1, 2020

Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm 

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86942353982

Here you’ll find books we have scheduled to read in the coming months. Please note, this list is subject to change:

  • September 2020: “Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognize Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World” by Layla F. Saad  

August 2020: “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo

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!
Step one
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 club reminders (book of the month sneak peaks, personal zoom meeting alerts, think questions, special giveaways, +more!) 
  • Adv. notice to claim free books
  • Mini monthly newsletter including anti-racist resources and materials to share with your networks
Step two
Start reading!

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!

Step three
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. We’ll also do some surprise giveaways!

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:

So You Want to Talk About Race is a fantastic and foundational anti-racist text. Ijeoma Oluo (a Seattle native!), offers a clear, constructive, empathetic guidance on how to approach topics such as: white privilege, the school-to-prison pipeline, affirmative action, intersectionality, and many others. It unpacks loaded situations like how to address white privilege with your white, privileged friend; why you shouldn’t touch a Black person’s hair without asking; how to harness your privilege for good and so much more! 

The crux of this book is the question, “Is it really about race?” For example, “is police brutality really about race?”, “is mass incarceration really about race?” What are microaggressions? What’s the big deal about cultural appropriation?

This book offers an important blueprint for conversation and action. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller. She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk about Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and winner of the of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society.

Oluo’s work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts, and personal essay. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, TIME, The Stranger, and the Guardian, among other outlets. 

(About information sourced via IjeomaOluo.com)

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”

“If you live in this system of white supremacy, you are either fighting the system or you are complicit. There is no neutrality to be had towards systems of injustice, it is not something you can just opt out of.”

“1. It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race. 2. It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color. 3. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.”

“You have to get over the fear of facing the worst in yourself. You should instead fear unexamined racism. Fear the thought that right now, you could be contributing to the oppression of others and you don’t know it. But do not fear those who bring that oppression to light. Do not fear the opportunity to do better.”

“Systemic racism is a machine that runs whether we pull the levers or not, and by just letting it be, we are responsible for what it produces.”

In Chapter 1, “Is it really about race?,” the author states: “It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race. It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.” After reading the author’s explanation of these points, can you think of social or political issues that many people currently believe are not about race, but actually may be? Which of the above guidelines for understanding when it is about race fit those issues?

The author makes it clear that the intended audience for this book is both white people and people of color. But does the author expect white people and people of color to read and experience this book in the same way? What are some of the ways in which the author indicates how she expects white people and people of color to react to and interact with portions of the book? What are some of the ways in which the author discusses the different roles that white people and people of color will play in fighting systemic racism in our society?

The chapter about privilege is placed right before the chapter on intersectionality. The author has stated in interviews that she placed those chapters in that order because it is impossible to fully understand intersectionality without first comprehending privilege. How do the concepts discussed in the chapter “Why am I always being told to check my privilege?” help deepen your understanding of intersectionality and help implement intersectionality into your life?

Chapter 15, “But what if I hate Al Sharpton?,” discusses the issue of respectability politics and tone policing. What burdens of “respectability” and “tone” do you see placed on different populations of color in our society?

book access
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)!

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

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 claim a copy via the button below! 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.