Libro.fm has announced that it is partnering with the team behind the #OnceYouGoBlackOut challenge, which focuses on celebrating little-known titles by black authors.
The challenge was started by book-loving Instagram users Reggie (@reggiereads), Traci (@thestackspod), Renée (@book_girl_magic), Marlowe (@lowelowexxoo), Leah (@exlibrislls), Anna (@never_withouta_book), and Jaime (@asborbedinpages).
Libro.fm recently interviewed the bookstagrammers to hear more about the challenge and what it means to them. Among the highlights:
How did the idea for #OnceYouGoBlackOut come about?
Reggie: Traci, Renée, Leah, Lowe, Jaime, Anna, and I read a book together every other month. During December, we read Black No More by George Schuyler, which is a still-relevant and classic satire from 1931. During that read, we all discussed doing something as a group for Black History Month, and the rest is history.
Leah: We wanted to raise awareness about the richness, complexity, and depth of literature by black authors. I personally am glad that Black History Month exists but feel very strongly that our intelligence, beauty, talent, culture, and vast contributions to the world should be celebrated and appreciated 365 days a year.
How have works by black authors impacted your lives?
Renée: It’s the sole reason I started Book Girl Magic: in the hopes of diversifying my reading. I grew up not knowing much about my history as a black person and really wanted to explore it. I thought reading with others would be a fun way to do so.
Marlowe: My mother was a very avid reader and I took after her at a young age. She never told me I needed to read age-appropriate things. So I read lots of Dean Koontz and Stephen King in middle school. It wasn’t until I read Mama by Terry McMillan that I felt like I saw (if not myself) my family and people I knew. There is something to be said for the experience of seeing yourself in a book. You crave it more and you crave it in all different types of stories. Not just ones that show the struggle of everyday Black life in America. We are so much more than that.
Has the response to this challenge been what you expected?
Jaime: Yes, the bookstagram community is a very accepting community. There have been many readers who have reached out by showing support for the challenge and what we are doing. To see everyone really get behind the challenge, participate, and get excited about it was exactly what I had anticipated.
Anna: The response to this challenge is beyond what I expected! With other Black History Month challenges going on, I just thought we would get a handful of participants, but boy was I wrong! The book community has embraced our movement and it’s taking off!
How does having a black narrator add power to audiobooks written by black authors?
Traci: Voices matter. Understanding the context and meaning of language is imperative especially when dealing with Black culture. Black folks are known for oral tradition and storytelling, and having a Black person read an audiobook is part of that.