Updated: Jul 31
I’m writing this blog in the hope that it may reassure aspiring writers of conscious Black books that there is a route to gaining exposure to a large audience through Dark Books. Conscious Black Books was the name of my book retail business from the mid-90s to early-00s. I sold uncompromising books on the Black experience from the period of the glorious and unprecedented kingdoms of Africa through the continent’s crippling exploitation during the centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the horrors that were experienced by the enslaved diaspora in the ‘New World’. Books on the effects of the evil of colonialism on Africa and the plight of the descendants of slaves in the ‘Western World’ were also always in stock.
The great Black writers that I admired were always mindful to highlight the constant thread of resistance to the crimes against humanity that were perpetrated on the people of Africa and its diaspora. Reading such books and making them available to others, particularly the youth, was uplifting and I always intended to publish appropriate work from Black communities globally to counter the rewriting of history and ensure that our experiences are current and future experiences are not reduced to the negative lies that we were fed at school in the UK.
The books that I read in my youth inspired me to teach in African Caribbean supplementary Saturday schools in the 1990s and I became an active member of Black political organisations from the late 1980s, we had a degree of success in combating racism, including institutionalised racism, but clearly not as much as we would have liked as racism, overt and in all its other guises, is of course still alive and kicking in the UK. The incredible positive work of one of the organisations, of which I was a member from the mid-90s has been obliterated from history, as the authorities did not want the model replicated, after a failed attempt by the authorities to crush the organisation drove it underground. I have a project in progress that will bring this contemporary history to light. The fight goes on!
If you have written uncompromising work about the Black experience and have been told that your work is ‘not a good fit for our brand’ by various publishers, it does not necessarily mean that your efforts are not worthy of reaching an audience. Send a synopsis to Dark Books and we will consider it on its merits and not on how controversial it may, or may not, be in an institutionally racist society.
Please look out for our banner at forthcoming Black political and literary events. Come over and say hello.
I will be drip-feeding some of the greatest books ever written on the historical and contemporary Black experience below:
Dark Books recommended book list
The Destruction of African Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500BC to 2000AD – Chancellor Williams
The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter Godwin Woodson
The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X (as told by Alex Haley)
Another Country - James Baldwin
The Lonely Londoner - Sam Selvon
Stolen Legacy - George G. M. James
The Souls of Black Folks - W. E. B. Du Bois
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass
Beyond Containment - Claudia Jones
My Bondage and My Freedom - Frederick Douglass
The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave - Mary Prince
I Write What I Like - Steve Biko
Black Jacobins - C. L. R. James
I know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
The Wretched of the Earth - Franz Fanon
Black Boy: A Record of Youth and Childhood - Richard Wright
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Africa Must Unite - Kwame Nkrumah
Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey - Marcus Garvey
Stokely Speaks: From black Power to Pan-Africanism - Kwame Ture
Given the persistent prison expansion policy in the 'West':
Are Prisons Obsolete? - Angela Davis
Soul on Ice - Eldridge Cleaver
Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson - George Jackson
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander