Book Clubs for Marginalized Individuals
It is no secret that individuals in marginalized groups feel more comfortable and at ease around people who share the same struggles. Thus it is important that safe spaces are available for minorities allowing them to discuss common interests and similar backgrounds.
It is important to read marginalized literature in order to encourage representation, and to acquire an education on the struggles of minorities. Since there is already a strong celebration of British and American literature in Western societies, marginalized literatures appear less apparent. These marginalized stories depict experiences that are often different from those that Western cultures know; this unfamiliarity is sometimes looked at through the lens of difference. Reading about these experiences can hopefully allow individuals to see the ways in which individuals are similar and are unjustly alienated out of ignorance. Book clubs that are inclusive in their literature and that generate a safe space can be productive in these areas. The following book clubs allow POC to feel safe and comfortable by engaging in conversations that revolve around sensitive topics.
In researching this topic, it was disappointing to find the options so limited but this in itself is an opportunity for marginalized communities to create safe spaces for themselves that are needed. The following is a list of what was compiled:
Indigenous Literatures Book Club
Drawn & Quarterly
Hosted by Tara McGowan, a Mi’kmaq multidisciplinary artist and writer, the book club engages with work by Indigenous writers from around the world. Meetings take place every 6-8 weeks and are open to all. On January 23rd, the meeting focused on Nature Poem by Tommy Pico that follows an individual named Teebs, a young, queer, Indigenous individual who can’t bring himself to write a poem about nature. Writing such a poem is a task that is difficult when coming from a modern perspective; in the process, he engages with historical and colonial white ideas that associate Indigenous peoples with nature in a stereotypical manner. Teebs is navigating how to become comfortable with his own voice.
Find them on Facebook:
Described as a Queer, Intersectional and Feminist book club in Montreal that holds bilingual meetings for adults.
Montreal Women’s Book Club
This club was started in 2011 for women who love reading. They are always welcoming new members, with their next meeting on Feb 26th from 6-8pm at Zoe Dessert. For the month of February, they will be reading “We Are Displaced” by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Find more information on their Facebook page:
This is a book club that was started by a group of queer friends who mostly identify as POC. Each month it is hosted in one of the friends’ homes where that person must make soup for everyone, hence ‘broth’ in the title. They often choose to read and discuss books that are written by authors of colour. The friends describe the club as “accidentally political” and “mostly a group of friends that wanted to be together.” The club began in their bonding over the way their reading declined once they started university. Being involved in academia is exhausting, and this group of friends created a structured reading environment so as to make time to read books that they were interested in. The texts they read are varied and include books ranging from colonization to self care and are written primarily by marginalized authors.
They are currently in the process of setting up an Instagram account, so that individuals may follow along and engage in conversations with them.
By Brenda Odria