Black History Month: Why we all should read Roxane Gay | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Black History Month: Why we all should read Roxane Gay 

Don't be afraid to get uncomfortable.

  • Photo: Jay Grabiec
Part of our month-long celebration of Black History Month

Seeing a book called Bad Feminist, or Hunger — A Memoir of (My) Body, can be off-putting to those uninterested in reading about feminism or body image. When choosing books to read, we tend to be drawn towards literature that reaffirms our beliefs. I'm no different — the reason I picked up Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay was that I hadn't felt connected to other feminist readings but wanted to support women; I felt I was a bad feminist.

While at its core, Bad Feminist is indeed about feminism, Gay also discusses race, violence, pop culture, and more. An Omaha-native whose family is of Haitian descent, Gay often focuses her writing on feminist and racial issues. 

In Bad Feminist, she shows the complexities of her mind, gets intimate with the reader, and makes you rethink your outlook. 

There were times during Bad Feminist where I felt uncomfortable. There were times where I found myself laughing out loud. There were times where I almost couldn't bear to continue reading, my heartstrings were pulled too hard. But I finished the book, and I walked away with new thoughts, viewpoints, and outlooks on life.
My perspective shifted so much that I picked up Hunger, a book I didn't totally feel aligned with, having luckily, never really dealt with body issues. Again, I felt an influx of emotions: pride, sadness, discomfort.

That's why we all should read Roxane Gay, or at least a novel by an author with a different background than yourself. If we only read what reaffirms how we already feel, what we already know, we, as people will never grow. We'll never change, evolve, and learn to see life from a different angle.

And growing and evolving is what Black History Month is about. We don't want to repeat the same mistakes we have made, especially concerning race.


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