Recommended Reading | The Unboxing of a Black Girl by Angela Shanté

poetry for black women

Published Date: May 6, 2024

The Unboxing of a Black Girl by Angela Shanté is a beautiful, and sometimes heavy, account of a black girl's coming-of-age. The author delicately shares her life unfolding through her experiences, teachings from others, and her unique view of the world around her. 

Reading about how black girls get forced into boxes just by existing was an affirming experience. In many instances, I found myself relating to so much of what she shared. Some of the poems even felt as though she wrote them just for me. Those Alanis Morrisette and Fefe Dobson references were just too specific! Any young girl enjoying something perceived to be outside of her "culture" or "box" will know what I mean when they read this.

I was also captivated by the ways in which the author shed those proverbial boxes. Black girls are not a monolith, but society tends to see us as such. And though we are often forced to assimilate, with the threat of being overlooked or ostracized, we find our way out of those boxes. Angela Shanté illustrates this so gracefully with her words. 

Another thing that stood out to me in the reading was the footnotes accompanying the poems. If there is something the author speaks of that one is unfamiliar with, she went the extra mile to make readers familiar outside of the margins. That's not something I see a lot, but I did appreciate that. 

The Unboxing of a Black Girl by Angela Shanté is truly a gem. It's an ode to the black girls finding their way out of the boxes they've been placed in their whole lives. Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.  

4.5 Stars


Recommended Reading | The Upcycled Self by Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter

"From one of our generation’s most powerful artists and incisive storytellers comes a brilliantly crafted work about the art—and war—of becoming who we are."

upcycled self tariq trotter

Publish Date: November 14, 2023

As a hip-hop fan and avid listener of The Roots, I was very excited to read The Upcycled Self by Tariq Trotter. While I had sifted through stories about the group from Questlove's books, I looked forward to reading personal accounts from Tariq Trotter. The Upcycled Self did not disappoint! 

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about Trotter through the stories he told. I felt as though I was walking down the streets with him as his beautiful words painted pictures of Philadelphia. It was a treat getting to learn more about him through his descriptions of his loved ones and those he was most influenced by. And I appreciated the vulnerability he possessed when sharing early stories about "the fire," his mother, and parts of himself I'd never heard him speak candidly about before. 

The Upcycled Self was a treat for me as I know it will be for fans and others as well. The only thing I wished for was that the book was longer. I found myself wanting to know more about this brilliant man I've grown to adore through verse and style over the years.  


Special thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing for the eBook! 

upcycled self tariq trotter

Will you be adding The Upcycled Self to your reading list? 

Recommended Reading | A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams is such a beautiful book to behold in both the month of love AND a leap year!

This book introduces us to unconventional Ricki Wilde, the youngest of 4 sisters, and the black sheep of the family. While the other three sisters follow the proverbial rules to a "T" and each contribute to running the family funeral business, Ricki longs to do her own thing. Doing her own thing leads this Georgia Peach to Harlem to open her own florist shop and bask in the rich history of the Harlem Renaissance.


“All I ever wanted to do was escape into this magical world where for once I don’t have to act a certain way because I’m Black, and where I don’t have to answer certain questions because I’m the Black authority in the room, and where if I do something that’s not stereotypically Black, I’m different.” ― Brittney Morris, Slay

Representation matters: in the literature we read, the movies we watch, and even the video games we play. And I am grateful that in present times, our youth can see so much of themselves in the entertainment they consume. I am constantly in awe of authors who introduce us to characters and plots that we can so easily relate to. One author in particular, Brittney Morris, masterfully weaves together stories and characters that readers can FEEL. She consistently creates characters that stick with us long after the read is over.  

Today, I share an author Q&A with said esteemed author, Brittney Morris. Here, she discusses what inspires her stories, video-game writing, advice to aspiring authors, and briefly touches on the paperback release of The Jump. Read below to learn more about Brittney Morris.


Brittney Morris is the bestselling author of SLAY, The Cost of Knowing, Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Wings of Fury, and The Jump. She also writes video games and has contributed to projects such as The Lost Legends of Redwall, Subnautica: Below Zero, Spider-Man 2 for PS5, and Wolverine for PS5. Brittney is an NAACP Image Award nominee, an ALA Black Caucus Youth Literary Award winner, and an Ignite Award Finalist. She has an economics degree from Boston University and spends her spare time reading, playing video games, and not doing enough yoga. 

Just to See You Smile | A Playlist

As many of you may know from reading here for a while: I am of the generation of making a "mixtape" for everything. And with so many music streaming services available at our fingertips, it's been easier than ever to make a playlist for any occasion. Add to that modern convenience, the fact that I'm a "make me a playlist so I know it's real" type of lady. Not only am I a person who loves for someone to send me music, I'm a person that loves sending music to others.

Sending music to friends, family, and others we share a closeness to, is a love language. Making the perfect playlist for those people is also a labor of love. It takes time, focus, and a bit of knowledge about the people we're sharing music with to make the perfect playlist for them. My goal for making someone a playlist is usually to put them on to music I feel they would enjoy, or simply to make them smile. I can't tell you how many times hearing a particular song has brightened my entire day. And since that is a feeling I love experiencing, it's one I love to extend to others. While it does take a bit of effort, seeing someone smile while enjoying their personalized playlist makes it worthwhile.

Looking at my latest posts, I realize it's been a while since I've posted a playlist for you guys to enjoy. So, I decided today that I would share a playlist to make you smile. Yes, YOU. Hopefully the vibes from this particular playlist bring about some positive feelings, make you reminisce on something nostalgic, or simply make you smile with the knowledge that I made this just for you. 

QUEUE THE "Just To See You Smile" PLAYLIST:  This is one of those playlists created for no other reason but to evoke positive feelings. Perhaps there's a song listed that shows appreciation. Maybe there's another that makes you feel empowered. Hopefully a couple of them make you feel inspired. Either way, I hope it adds a bit of joy to your day. Click the image above to open the playlist up in a new window.

Loving these Spotify playlists? Let me know in the comments if you want more here on the blog. And be sure to give me a follow if you're on Spotify, too. I love making mixtapes and sharing music with my good boos over there.



Recommended Reading | Rhythm & Muse by India Hill Brown

Rhythm & Muse, by India Hill Brown is described as "Cinderella meets Cyrano" in this pitch-perfect YA rom-com that is a celebration of Black joy, first crushes, and putting your heart on the line for love.

ya romance by bipoc authors

When a daydreamer falls for someone, it happens first in his head. Then, unfolds in a perfectly synchronized rhythm, if timed correctly. The only downside to this proverbial falling, is that the daydreamer may trip and fall with nothing substantial to catch him, if he doesn't wake up from his daydream. That's been the case for me and many other daydreamers I know. And I'm pretty sure Darren, our MC, can attest to this.

Rhythm and Muse by India Hill Brown introduces us to high-school overall good kid, Darren. Darren checks all the good-guy boxes and never colors outsides the lines. He thinks before he speaks or reacts, and often overthinks so much, he misses the opportunity to take action. But the thought of trying on a "love thang" with his crush Dillie D has him stepping outside his comfort zone in ways he wouldn't have imagined before.

Meet Delia, aka Dillie D, according to her podcast listeners. Delia is a free-spirited young woman who knows what she wants and doesn't hold her tongue when it comes to expressing those wants. She hosts a podcasts most teens & college students in the local area tune into each week without fail. But one thing that seems to elude her is that connection from a special someone, since her boyfriend broke her heart last year. Pouring all her time and energy into her podcast proves to be quite the distraction until she has the bright idea to run a contest for her listeners to find the perfect jingle for her show. This contest brings our MC Darren and Delia together in a serendipitous way that I'm gonna spare you the details for, because I need you to go read this for yourself! Will Darren be able to get out of his head long enough to get the girl of his dreams? Will he seize the opportunities laid before him to be recognized for his talent? 👀

I won't overshare here, but I will share one of my "musings" from Rhythm and Muse I wrote in my while reading: Beautiful things can happen when you get out of your head to enjoy the rhythm of the present moment around you every now and again. ❤ This quote personally conveys the message I received from this book, and I am grateful for the reminder.

I rated this one 4 stars only because teenage angst stresses me out sometimes. I think Darren being in his head so much affected his connections tremendously, and it started to wear on me a bit. I wish I could have seen his relationships develop more organically, outside of his thoughts & fantasies. Overall, I enjoyed the read and hope you check it out as well.

Major thanks to Netgalley and Quill Tree Books for the eARC!


ya romance by bipoc authors




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