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Read These Brilliant Black Authors to Understand Single Life

Not just the same old stories: black authors on single life.

“As protests around the country against racism and police violence extend well into their second week, demand for books about race and anti-racism has surged.”

It was great to read that in the book review section of The New York Times. Personally, I would also like to see demand surge for books relevant to single life written by black authors.

There are some brilliant ones out there. Some are specifically about being single and others address what it means to be single in the context of friendship, family, community, or motherhood. A few of these books have been around for some time. One was just published this week, and another is in the works.

I didn’t set out to include only books by women, but those are the ones I know about. I welcome suggestions for additions, by black women or black men. (I had to close down the comments section here, because of how vile some people had become, but you can tag me on Twitter, @belladepaulo.)

For each book, I’m including a quote from the author. I used to write for a book review site before it closed down; if I had the good fortune of reviewing one of these books, I’m including the link. Sometimes I wrote other articles about what I loved about these books; I’m linking to those, too. I hope you will share what you love on Twitter or elsewhere.

used with permission of Keturah Kendrick
No Thanks
Source: used with permission of Keturah Kendrick

No Thanks: Black, Female, and Living in the Martyr-Free Zone

By Keturah Kendrick

“I am not married because I do not want to be. I am not married because I have not seen any iteration of the institution that inspires me to choose it. I am single because I am enough for me. A chance to get chosen neither motivates nor moves me.”

More about No Thanks:

used with permission of Dani McClain
We Live for the We
Source: used with permission of Dani McClain

We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

By Dani McClain

“When I walked into my OB-GYN’s office in Dayton, Ohio, or into the offices of the various specialists I saw over the course of my pregnancy, I suspect that the all-white teams of receptionists, nurses, and doctors…first saw a black woman, not an Ivy League graduate… An Institute of Medicine report found that people of color are “less likely to receive needed services” even when their insurance and income are the same as white people’s. So I tried to leverage every bit of privilege I could to stave off the assumptions that my health-care providers might have made. I wasn’t married and rarely wore my engagement ring, but I made sure to put it on before every prenatal appointment.”

More about We Live for the We:

used with permission of Mia Birdsong
How We Show Up
Source: used with permission of Mia Birdsong

How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, Community

By Mia Birdsong

“By American Dream standards, a 'good family' is an insular, nuclear family comprising a legally married man and woman raising biological children. …Any deviation from the model is seen as second best or underachieving. Adoption is something you do after pregnancy doesn’t work out. Being a single parent only happens when you can’t keep or find a partner. Divorce is a failure. A rental is where you live until you’ve gotten your down payment together. Unmarried couples are asked, 'When are you getting married?' …being child-free confers a lack of completion of, and commitment to, family. Married couples without kids, particularly women, are regularly asked, 'When are you going to have kids?' And while a woman might not be considered a failure as a human being if she never marries, she’s still seen as a bit sad.”

used with permission of Eleanore Wells
The Spinsterlicious Life
Source: used with permission of Eleanore Wells

The Spinsterlicious Life

By Eleanore Wells

“When I’m talking to people — usually women — and they learn I’ve neve been married, some of them look at me with pity. Others look blank, like they’re trying to hide their real reaction. Still others look smug, which is particularly funny since many of them don’t know where their husbands are half the time, they can barely tolerate being in the same room as their spouse, or they haven’t had sex with each other in an eternity.”

More about The Spinsterlicious Life:

used with permission of Nika Beamon
I didn't work this hard just to get married
Source: used with permission of Nika Beamon

I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married

By Nika C. Beamon

“While we have all the people that matter in our worlds, such as family and friends, it is the lack of a life partner or soul mate that stigmatizes us and downplays all of our other accomplishments. No matter what else we have achieved, we are still bombarded with questions like 'Why can’t she find a man?' and 'Is there something wrong with her?'”

More about I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married:

from Goodreads
If someone says, You complete me, Run
Source: from Goodreads

If Someone Says, “You Complete Me,” RUN!

By Whoopi Goldberg

“I believe in soul mates but I don’t believe that you have to have sex with your soul mate or marry your soul mate…I have four soul mates now. They are people for whom I would give my life. But I wouldn’t have them come live with me in my house. I don’t want to marry them. They are married to other people anyway.”

More about If Someone Says, “You Complete Me,” RUN!:

provided by Kris Marsh
Kris Marsh, PhD
Source: provided by Kris Marsh

The Love Jones Cohort: Single and Living Alone in the Black Middle Class

By Kris Marsh, PhD

This book by Professor Kris Marsh, a sociologist and demographer, is forthcoming, so I don’t have a picture of the book cover or any quotes to share with you yet. I can, though, tell you what she said in an academic article I discussed here:

“This research shows that never-married singles who live alone (Love Jones Cohort) constitute a rapidly growing segment of the black middle class, a development which requires rethinking how the black middle class is conceptualized and studied.”

“A possible implication of this shift is that if black women are achieving middle-class status without marrying, marriage may not, contrary to what has been previously believed, provide much financial benefit or produce positive returns for professional black women in this age group.”

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