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Marcfirst Celebrates: Black History Month

Happy Black History Month, everyone! We can collectively acknowledge that Black individuals experience different roadblocks and dangers compared to others. Historically, the achievements of Black people have been repeatedly overshadowed and underappreciated. How can we celebrate their contributions and educate ourselves about the experience of Black individuals? One great way is to identify and support Black creators and businesses. 


According to the National Disability Institute, there are links between poverty, race, and disability in the U.S. How do Black individuals with disabilities navigate both of these identities and the struggles often associated with them? As a White woman, I cannot share my personal experiences here—even though I can sympathize and educate myself, I will never be able to fully understand what it feels like to live as a Black person, or someone with a disability. This is where my recommended books come in! 


Books, videos, and other materials created by people within a certain community are some of the best ways to educate ourselves and understand other people’s experiences. This does not mean that all depictions and representations are accurate and appropriate—we still need to be mindful of how media and books portray groups of individuals! However, these books have been carefully selected to create a better understanding of the experiences of Black people with disabilities, with a focus on creators who speak from their own personal experiences. 


Look for these books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon! Some are even free as Ebooks on Amazon.


“The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me” was written by Keah Brown, a Black woman who was born with cerebral palsy. This book is a collection of essays that tackles individual identity, intersectionality, and self-love with humor and poise. The title refers to how Keah’s twin able-bodied sister was always referred to as ‘the pretty one’. Learn about Keah’s experiences, struggles, and triumphs as a Black woman with a disability.  


“Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family” by Lisa Fenn is a memoir that highlights the stories of Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett, two Black boys with physical disabilities, and how their bond formed through friendship and wrestling. Learn about their backgrounds, love for sports, and how they have learned to accommodate for each other. This story exemplifies grit, love for others, and perseverance throughout Leroy and Dartanyon’s lives.


(4-8 years) “Why Am I Me?” by Paige Britt explores race, identity, and a range of abilities through a conversation between two people to encourage exploration and appreciation of differences.


(3-6 years) “It’s Okay To Be Different” by Todd Parr focuses on celebrating diversity and individuality through colorful and accessible illustrations.


(4-8 years) “My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay” by Cari Best follows Zulay, a blind girl who is also Black, along with her friends when she decides she wants to run a race.


​​​​​(4-7 years) “Whoever You Are” by Mem Fox illustrates how children around the world experience life differently, but are still united in many ways.


(4-8 years) “Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah” by Laurie Ann Thompson tells the story of Emmanuel, born in Ghana, West Africa with a physical disability. Learn how he persevered to become an impressive cyclist!


(Young adult) “Unbroken: 13 stories starring disabled teens” by Marieke Nijkamp features a collection of 13 stories by different young authors with disabilities. Many of these stories also discuss intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality.


“Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a collection of essays about intersectionality, disability, justice, and politics regarding these issues. Many of these stories discuss race, gender, and sexuality as well. 

About the Author:

She is a graduate student at Illinois State University and has decided to create blogs for Marcfirst in the coming months to build awareness about important topics. Marissa has a background in women’s and gender studies, and uses this to locate high-quality research and understand diverse points of view that she herself can never fully experience. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed are Marissa's and do not necessarily represent the official views of Marcfirst.




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