Now more than ever we must support, uplift and amplify the voices of Black authors and creators. Sharing Black stories and work is necessary to combating and dismantling the systematic racism that exists in our world.
Below, please find a list—which is not at all exhaustive—of just a few talented, incredible and necessary artists, creators and writers. Please share their work, buy from Black-owned bookstores or shops, and support them however you can now and always. And be sure to recommend widely, spread the word far and wide. It’s easy to amplify now, when similar lists, hashtags and promises by brands, publishers and stores have become more commonplace. However, it’s also important to follow through, to continue to support and amplify and help established artists, creators and writers as well as new artists, creators and writers. Pre-order books by Black authors, review their work on retail sites, highlight work by Black artists and Black-owned small businesses during the holidays and for birthdays gifts. And be sure to check out the #DrawingWhileBlack tag on Twitter and follow all of the below amazing artists and authors for updates.
You’ve definitely seen Alleanna’s work before. She’s illustrated book covers such as Lisa Moore Ramée’s A Good Kind of Trouble and was a featured artist for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. All of Alleanna’s art is teeming with life and is as whimsical and uplifting as I want to see in children’s art. I can’t wait to see more of her illustrated books.
I first came across Steenz’s work in Archival Quality, an award-winning graphic novel that showcases Steenz’s unique style. If you haven’t read and enjoyed Archival Quality, you must and also check out more of Steenz’s art!
Vashti’s work is breathtaking. Her wide-array of art reminds me of childhood, and every book she illustrates is a gift. I adore her Little Leaders series and love sharing the books with young readers.
As soon as I saw Yusra’s art, I was captivated. A prolific background artist, Yusra’s pieces transport you instantly to whatever they capture. I’ve lost time scrolling through her Instagram feed, drawn in by landscapes and cityscapes alike.
Tajaé’s porfolio is broad and wide-ranging; from character design to realistic portraits, every piece is stunning. I admire the output here and the lush and rich illustrations that are featured.
I happy sighed when I first saw Candice’s art. I could live within those illustrations, they’re so perfect, that’s how expressive and wonderful they are. Each drawing tells such a full story that it’s no wonder Candice is a storyteller as well as an artist. According to her about page on her site, she’s developing two short stories, and I absolutely cannot wait to experience them.
Michael’s pen drawings should stun you. They did for me! The detail, the range, the absolute skill and talent in Michael’s art is really just incredible. Can you believe he only uses a pen? I want everyone to know this artist’s name. He’s amazing.
Sherri’s penchant for well-researched and emotional novels that focus on important and often overlooked subjects is one of the reasons why every reader needs to have her books on their shelves. From a California noir novel to a historical romance set in Japan during World War II, Sherri’s books cover expansive worlds and ideas while tapping into humanity at its most vulnerable.
I inhaled How We Fight For Our Lives, Saeed’s memoir about his mother, his relationships and being a young gay Black man. The reading experience was real and visceral. Like his prose, his poetry is evocative and thoughtful, and I find myself going back to it again and again.
Ashley Franklin is the debut author of the delightful Not Quite Snow White, which is about a young Black girl who dreams of getting a part as Snow White in her school’s play despite the other kid’s prejudices. This book needs to be on every young reader’s bookshelves. It’s beautiful and bright and perfect for educators, parents and readers of all ages.
My favorite quality of middle-grade is that it exists in a liminal space between childhood and young adulthood. There’s hope but there’s possibility too. Just South of Home, a story of a group of young kids healing their hometown after uncovering a past tragedy, exudes this quality.
Full disclosure: I follow Alechia Dow on Twitter and am obsessed with her photos of her bakes. Did you know that in addition to being a brilliant science fiction YA novelist she’s also a former pastry chef? Visit her on Twitter for the evidence of her skill and talent, but also check out her debut, The Sound of Stars, which has one of the coolest and original science fiction concepts I’ve read recently!
Photo Credit: Nadine Rodler
I desperately needed to read Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn since I first heard about it (and not just because her protagonist and I share a name!). The first part of the synopsis alone (modern day classic legend with Southern Black Girl magic?) will convince any reader that they desperately need this one too.
Christina is the author of The Black Kids, a timely and necessary book set during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. It is a must-read alongside the books from Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, and Nic Stone.
I think Frederick’s book, The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person, is a must-read for white people of all ages. Raw, emotional and real, Frederick Joseph, an award-winning marketing professional, has done the work and we need to do the work to support, read and learn—starting here.
Have you heard of Tristian Punches A Hole In The Sky? No? Please remedy this by going to your retailer of choice or local library’s website and ordering it immediately. It is epic. And there are more Tristian books coming, and you’ll want to catch up immediately, trust me!
Witchy season is coming, friends! One way you can greet autumn is with a haunting good book like Alexis’ The Year of the Witching, a creepy, feminist fantasy. If this is any indication of what’s to come, I’m going to need a standing order to get all of Alexis’ books immediately.
I’ve been enthralled by C.T. Rwizi’s Scarlet Odyssey since I first read about it, a fantasy inspired by Southern and Eastern Africa. Scarlet Odyssey is C.T.’s debut novel and was just published this July. When asked what his hope for readers encountering Scarlet Odyssey might be in this Q&A on Medium he wrote, “My hope is that readers find in my work a deeper appreciation of the diversity of Africa and its peoples. I also hope that other aspiring writers of color will find the inspiration to tell their own stories. When I was younger, I was starved for black protagonists in the SFF genre, and then I realized that one way to sate this hunger was to write my own black protagonist.” Hopefully, that will resonate with you like it did with me.