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Fall Reads: 6 books to decolonize your mind

In that practice of striving to disrupt oppressive-repressive discourses and decolonize the mind, I’ve decided to post 6 books that changed my life–some of these are banned from being read by high school students in Arizona. I realize many of these are pretty much a no-brainer for those of us who are already attempting decolonial praxis in our daily struggle, but nevertheless I feel deeply indebted to these authors for impacting my life with their radical words, ideas, and their overall activist approach towards writing.

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Drink Cultura: Chicanismo by Jose Antonio Burciaga

This is probably the least difficult and fastest read on this list. Funny and informative, Burciaga’s autobiographical essays explain Chicanismo and Chicano identity through his eyes. This is important because too often we get history and stories told about us by the colonizer, so it’s always good to find books that explain through their own voice.

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Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces by Juana Maria Rodriguez

Rodriguez complicates what ethnic/racial/gender/sexual identity is by analyzing how it is constructed in various social settings and how it is reinforced by these spaces, as well as how we maintain identit(ies) through performance. Her case studies are extremely informative and worth a read!

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Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980 by Kimberly Springer

Inspirational work that details the inner-workings of Black Feminist Organizations. Springer lays out the rise and fall of these important groups, such as the Combahee River Collective. This book serves as a blueprint for organizing and is especially important to those of us interested in building coalition and consciousness raising groups to enact change within our communities.

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Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity by Chandra Mohanty

Mohanty is amazing! By combining feminism and decolonial theory we are given a third world feminism that challenges the hegemonic whiteness that is found within feminist thought. Essential decolonial reading for all–including men.

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Disrupting Savagism: Intersecting Chicana/o, Mexican Immigrant, and Native American Struggles for Self-Representation by Arturo Aldama

Aldama’s work broadens the understanding of Chicana/o identity, situating it within the context of indigenous experience. By beginning with the colonial power structure defining indigenous people’s as savage, either noble or fierce, we are given a deeper understanding of how conversations in the media today develop a binary of white superiority and Chicana/o inferiority. Aldama’s book is extremely refreshing when we consider how compartmentalized Chicana/o and Native American scholars/studies can be. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in the intersection of Chicana/o and Indigenous identities, histories, and shared realities.

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Borderland/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua

Such an important foundational text on Chicana feminism and border studies. Anzaldua speaks to the experience of countless Chicanas and those of us living in-between society’s strictly defined boundaries of race, (trans)gender, and sexual orientation. If you haven’t read it yet all I can say is, “JUST READ IT!”

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