natural hairA couple of years ago, one summer school student asked if the Library had any “street-lit.” While there were some classic titles for her (“NOT Iceberg Slim! That’s what my dad reads”), the Library had none of what she wanted. Our conversation prompted Reference & Instructional Librarian, Jessica Silver-Sharp to build a small collection of contemporary books and replace some older classics — like Iceberg Slim’s Mama Black Widow and Donald Goines’ Daddy Cool.

If you’re not familiar with street lit or it’s relative urban fiction, these genres are enjoying a renaissance today. They are young-adult and adult oriented novels about survival — how to survive the streets by circumventing the pitfalls. They include contemporary classics like Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever and award winning newer titles like Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle or Tommy Orange’s There There. Most street lit and urban fiction is by Black authors, but not exclusively. Want to know more? Check out Skyline College Library’s Research Guide or try Vanessa Irvin Morris’s excellent guide, Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature.

Another recently acquired, unique collection increases representation of natural hair’s celebration and care. It includes the new picture book, Hair Love: A Celebration of Daddies and Daughters Everywhere by Matthew Cherry, Oscar winning director of the new short by the same name, as well as many other titles for children. Books for adults include The Black Woman’s Hair Bible, Natural Hair Care, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, and Gillian Scott-Ward’s new film Back to Natural: A Historical Look at the Global Policing of Black Bodies.

In celebration of Black History month, the Library has displayed these collections and more.

Any staff, student or faculty member can check out books for themselves or their family. We invite you to stop by!

Article by Jessica Silver-Sharp

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