Black Writers' Series: Focus on Nonfiction

February 16, 2023

Our Black Writers' Series continues: this time, with four books that speak the truth. These nonfiction picks are penned by writing partners and collectives, as well as an accomplished businesswoman-turned-politician.

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Black Writers' Series: Black History Month on All Lit Up.


The cover of Where They Stood.

The writer: Black Community Resource Centre

The Black Community Resource Centre (BCRC), founded in 1995, is a growing resource-based not-for-profit organization located in Montreal, Quebec. The BCRC is a leader and advocate whose priority is to promote and support the well-being and success of the English-speaking Black community in Quebec, as well as serving other marginalized groups. Its mission is to provide support services to individuals and communities, identify and remove barriers to access to employment, and help visible minority youth rekindle their dreams and achieve their full potential.

The book:  Where They Stood: The Evolution of the Black Anglo Community in Montreal (Linda Leith Publishing)

This just-released book from Montreal's Linda Leith Publishing represents a collaborative effort between nine young Black writers and the Black Community Resource Centre to chronicle the story of Montreal's English-speaking Black community. The writers plumb the depths of history of the immigrants, labourers, and community activists who came to form the cultural and social background of Black Anglo Montreal. The stories together tell a collective history of triumph and joy.


The cover of Black Anarchism and the Black Radical Tradition.

The writer(s): Atticus Bagby-Williams and Nsambu Za Suekama

Atticus Bagby-Williams is a communist theorist, though he likes to think of himself as an anarchist in practice. His theoretical work is concerned with historical and contemporaneous Black anarchist thought, the multiplicity of social struggles against oppression in the United States, and third worldist perspectives on revolution. He has written for Red Voice and the Commoner and previously published a chapter with Shemon and Arturo in the book The Revolutionary Meaning of the George Floyd Rebellion.

Nsambu Za Suekama, (or "Bl3ssing"), they/she, is a New African woman of nonbinary/transgender experience, focused on revolutionary organizing and educating at the crossroads of Black ecology, Third Worldism, transfeminist materialism, and anarchist/autonomist movement. They previously published "To The Ones Who Can Fly: A Message from the Whirlwind" (True Leap Press), including a study guide for support of Black trans prisoners. Her radical theoretical contributions have been featured on Red Voice News and Afrofuturist Abolitionists of the Americas.

The book:  Black Anarchism and the Black Radical Tradition: Moving Beyond Racial Capitalism (Daraja Press)

How does Black anarchism fit within the overall Black radical tradition - and why has it been left out in the past? In light of the George Floyd protests that swept much of North American political life in 2020 and beyond, this book seeks to return Black anarchism and its tenets to its rightful place within the Black radical movement.


The cover of From the Heart by Mary Anne Chambers.

The writer: Mary Anne Chambers

Mary Anne Chambers's experience spans the worlds of business, government, and community service. She has been recognized with an Order of Ontario, a Meritorious Service Medal, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, and four honorary doctorates. She lives in Thornhill, Ontario.

The book: From the Heart: Family. Community. Service. (Dundurn Press)

Mary Anne Chambers's memoir From the Heart traces her immigration journey from Jamaica to Canada in the mid-seventies, and the dissuading voices that greeted her here. Despite being told "not to be surprised if she didn’t get very far" - Chambers proved her critics and colleagues wrong; ascending the corporate world before setting her sights on politics. In this inspiring book, she shares the moments that defined her and the methods - curiosity, tenacity, authenticity, and openness - that brought her success.


The cover of BlackLife.

The writer(s): Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi

Rinaldo Walcott is a writer and professor in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Long Emancipation: Moving Toward Black Freedom and On Property, which was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award in 2021.

Idil Abdillahi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies, and was the Advisor to the Dean on Anti-Black Racism at the Faculty of Community and Social Services at Ryerson University (2020-2021). Dr. Abdillahi is a critical Black Interdisciplinary scholar, researcher, policy analyst, grassroots organizer, and experienced practitioner across healthcare, institutional, policy, and social service settings. She is the author of Black Women Under State: Surveillance, Poverty, & the Violence of Social Assistance (2022), co-author of BlackLife: Post-BLM and The Struggle For Freedom (2019), author of Blackened Madness: Medicalization, and Black Everyday Life in Canada (forthcoming), and a co-editor of the forthcoming edition of Mad Matters: A Critical Reader in Canadian Mad Studies.

The book: BlackLife: Post-BLM and the Struggle for Freedom (ARP Books)

In BlackLife, writers and academics Walcott and Abdillahi look beyond state-sponsored racism in Canada to the foundations of anti-Blackness, rooted in and inextricable from dominant Western modernism. They posit that the alternative lies within artists, theorists, activists, and scholars - that they're equipped to rethink and challenge the dominant and harmful conception of Black personhood, and create a more equitable society based in justice, community, and respect for Black lives.


Black Writer's Series: Focus on nonfiction. With photos of the writers featured in the post, where available: The Black Community Resource Centre, Mary Anne Chambers, Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi.


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The ALU  Black writers' series continues next week with four playwrights - don't miss it!


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