• Marybeth Baluyot

8 Non-Fiction Books, Essays, and Memoirs on the BIPOC Disabled Experience

Updated: Jun 26

As we move into the middle of June with less than a week until Juneteenth, we’re seeing more informative and educational videos, podcasts, and books circulating for allies to educate themselves on anti-racism for the first time. It’s amazing--Ibram X Kendi books are selling out, library books have two month waiting times, and it’s a great time for white America to do the work themselves without putting the emotional burden on their Black friends.

The NY Times has published recommendations on Anti-Racist Books and NPR stated that their List of Books, Films, and Podcasts about Racism is a Start, Not a Panacea. We hear you loud and clear, NPR Opinion column! This is just the beginning of your anti-racist work. We want to know what else you’re doing to mitigate the shit out of the racial bias, injustice, inequity, and violence you witness in workplaces, gyms, grocery stores, and in your local police department.

We want to know how you’re centering your anti-racist work around intersectionality and amplifying not only Black men but also Black women, Black disabled folks, and Black transgender folks by taking into account the complexities of prejudices, discriminations, and disadvantages they face.

Here is a working list of readings featuring BIPOC authors and stories that we’d love for you to add to your Sunday Book Club catalog:

  • DisCrit: Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education by Subini Annamma, David Connor, Beth Ferri. This book examines the achievement/opportunity gaps from both historical and contemporary perspectives, as well as the overrepresentation of minority students in special education and the school-to-prison pipeline. Chapters also address school reform and the impact on students based on race, class, and dis/ability and the capacity of law and policy to include (and exclude).

  • Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Peipzna-Samarasinha. Leah explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all. Care Work is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a toolkit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient communities of liberation where no one is left behind.

  • Blind Ambition by Ever Lee Hairston. A product of share-cropping parents and raised on one of the biggest plantations in the South, Ever hid a terrible secret, which she hadn’t told anyone – not her family, her friends, her teachers, and as she got older, even her employers. Ever Lee didn’t want to accept that she was slowly losing her eyesight.

  • Black Disabled Ancestors by Leroy F Moore Jr. Black disabled people have ancestors who left knowledge, art, music, culture, politics and a lot of pain for us to pick up, build on, and to tell the harsh truth. Many colorful, harsh and dream-like Black disabled ancestor's stories have been waking Leroy up in the middle of the night.

  • Disability, Gender, and the Trajectories of Power by Asha Hans. This book argues for the rights of women with disabilities, who live on the periphery of society, and seeks to eradicate the exclusion and stigma that are part of their lives. It brings together the perspectives of academicians and activists in trying to understand the various social issues faced by women with disabilities and argues for a society where they are not denied respect, equality, and justice.

  • Black Madness: Mad Blackness by Therí A. Pickens. Therí rethinks the relationship between Blackness and disability, unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive. Her theorizations of race and disability challenge the paradigms of subjectivity that white supremacy and ableism enforce, thereby pointing to the potential for new forms of radical politics.

  • This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not Disability) by Aaron Philip, with Tonya Bolden. Antiguan American immigrant, a 14-year old with cerebral palsy writes this honest, funny memoir providing insight on how physical disabilities and poverty played a role in their upbringing. Aaron Philip is a Black, transgender, and disabled model known all across the nation.

  • The Secret Life of a Black Aspie by Anand Prahlad. Anand was born on a former plantation in Virginia in 1954. For the first four years of his life, Prahlad didn’t speak. But his silence didn’t stop him from communicating—or communing—with the strange, numinous world he found around him. Ordinary household objects came to life; the spirits of long-dead slave children were his best friends. In his magical interior world, sensory experiences blurred, time disappeared, and memory was fluid. Ever so slowly, he emerged, learning to talk and evolving into an artist and educator.

If you get into any of the pieces listed above, please let us know your thoughts in the comments box!

Since I have you here… Black Lives Matter. Black Disabled Lives Matter. Peace!


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