Black Girls Rock! Non-Fiction Celebrating Black Women with Mocha Girls Read


[Note from Frolic: We are SO excited to welcome our friends Mocha Girls Read to Frolic! Every month they will be sharing what books they are talking about in their book club. If you want to join/learn more visit them here.]

By: Akilah Brown

The theme for Mocha Girls Read this month is Black Girls Rock!, which I–and all of the black women I know–understand to be a fact of life. I come from a long line of rocking black women, including my great-grandmother who raised her children and then, after having two heart attacks, raised my mom and some of her siblings; my mom who survived a liver transplant; and my daughter who is currently rocking her way through an undergraduate program in Florida. And because, like many women, I sometimes fail to give myself enough credit: I am rocking my way through being an English professor at a community college.

So I’m glad Mocha Girls Read wanted to highlight nonfiction about Black women. I personally nominated Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly since I found it life-changing when I read it after the most recent presidential election. (Speaking of rocking Black girls, I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the phenomenal–and award winning–Robin Miles.) I felt at a loss for what to do and found a lot of inspiration in knowing that the four women highlighted in the book (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden) changed the world by simply showing up for work every day and doing what they did best. As someone who often struggles with wanting to constantly be doing something more and struggles with thinking I’m not doing enough, I really needed the reminder that doing the work I am called to do can be transformative in and of itself.

There were so many awesome books nominated that my to-read list exploded just a little bit. Because the nomination process is democratic and fair, we’re only allowed to nominate one book per theme (a real challenge for a bookworm with strong opinions), so here are some other books I’ve already read that I wish I could have nominated. May your to-read list explode a little, too.

All descriptions from Goodreads.

I, Tina by Tina Turner with Kurt Loder

Tina Turner’s is the most fascinating true story in show business. From Nut Bush, Tennessee, to Hollywood stardom…from Ike’s Kings of Rhythm to onstage with Mick Jagger and the Stones…from the lowest lows to the highest highs, Tina has seen, done, suffered and survived it all. And in her spectacular bestseller “I, TINA,” she tells it like it really is…

Healing Rage by Ruth King

Self-help authors rarely distinguish between anger and rage, but Ruth King has devoted her career to exploring the subtle varieties of rage, while challenging the notion that rage is an “evil” emotion that must be eradicated. In Healing Rage, she gives all readers access to her pioneering, breakthrough program, which has already changed thousands of lives through workshops nationwide.

Rage, King explains, sits at the crossroads of personal transformation. Those of us seeking more self-awareness will inevitably stumble upon personal rage on the path. Rage is not to be understood as a useless emotion, empty of story or knowledge, but as clarity and untapped fuel. Embraced with compassion, the energy trapped in rage becomes an intimate and empathic teacher offering balance, integrity, and inner peace to your healing journey, relationships, and service.

King identifies six common disguises of rage (dominance, defiance, devotion, distraction, depression, and dependence) and provides healing exercises including:

* Discover your rage inheritance and how to transform your legacy.

* Learn how to Look Within before Acting Out.

* Learn how to break habitual pain patterns in relationships.

* Learn how to center yourself again and again in difficult situations.

* Learn how to stay true to yourself when others are raging.

* And learn how to stop contributing to your own suffering.

Many of us go through our lives maintaining a good front. We may have all of the trappings—good job, higher education, and material gain–yet we have an inherent discontent with our lives that won’t go away. Written for every woman—ranging from counselors and their patients to those who may not realize that rage is at the root of their unhappiness and have just begun to seek new paths of hope—Healing Rage is a unique invitation for transformation.

Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant

New York Times best-selling author Iyanla Vanzant recounts the last decade of her life and the spiritual lessons learned—from the price of success during her meteoric rise as a TV celebrity on Oprah, the Iyanla TV show (produced by Barbara Walters), to the dissolution of her marriage and her daughter’s 15 months of illness and death on Christmas day. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Iyanla shares why everything we need to learn is reflected in our relationships and the strength and wisdom she has gained by supporting others in their journeys to make sense out of the puzzle pieces of their lives.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

The true story of an individual’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.

Written and published in 1861 after Jacobs’ harrowing escape from a vile and predatory master, the memoir delivers a powerful and unflinching portrayal of the abuses and hypocrisy of the master-slave relationship. Jacobs writes frankly of the horrors she suffered as a slave, her eventual escape after several unsuccessful attempts, and her seven years in self-imposed exile, hiding in a coffin-like “garret” attached to her grandmother’s porch.

A rare firsthand account of a courageous woman’s determination and endurance, this inspirational story also represents a valuable historical record of the continuing battle for freedom and the preservation of family.

Permission Slips by Sherri Shepherd

Covering topics such as “It’s Jesus or Jail,” “Marriage, the Hard Way,” “Children: The Gift You Can’t Give Back,” and “All the Things I Don’t Know…And All the Things I Definitely Do,” stand-up comedienne, actress, and ABC’s The View co-host Sherri Shepherd comically chronicles her struggles to keep up with the many roles-professional, wife, mother, daughter, and friend-that women must play in today’s world. Sherri urges women to pursue their most important dreams and to never give up, but also lets readers know that it’s okay to give themselves “permission slips” when things don’t always work out the way they want them to. As her many fans know, Sherri is never hesitant to speak from the heart, and her bubbly personality shines through in this delightful autobiography.

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About the Author:

Akilah Brown is a professor at a community college in Southern California and an avid reader and TV watcher. She blogs about her life as an English professor and the books she’s reading at The Englishist ( You can also find her on Goodreads (, Twitter (@theakilahbrown), and Letterboxd (


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