The Authors of The 2017 Root 100

Recognizing the Authors of the 2017 Root 100 Influencers List

The Root 100 is the annual list of the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45 created by theroot.com. The Root used a unique algorithm calculating the persons reach, substance, and influence to determine the top 100 influencers according to TheRoot.com. The influencers on their 2017 list are categorized into eight (8) sectors: arts, community, business, entertainment, media, politics, sports, and STEM.

We’ve combed through their list to identify those influencers who’ve authored a book in the last 12 to 18 months. Hopefully, this list helps give you some thoughts on your next read. Why not kick-off your comfy, cozy fall with the ideas of The Root 100 list of influencers.

The Root 100

Ta-Nehisi Coates | Journalist, Author | Root #6
We Were Eight Years in Power
We Were Eight Years in Power
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates—whose collection of essays, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, arrives in October—is one of the foremost thinkers and writers of his generation on the timeless subjects of race and culture.” – The Root 100

“…Obama’s presidency serves as the foundation of his new book, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, a collection of essays that look back at the Obama years and the backlash that led to the election of Donald Trump, whom Coates dubbed “The First White President” in a devastating essay that was excerpted in The Atlantic earlier this month.”

Roxane Gay | Author | Root #7
Hunger
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
by Roxane Gay

“This year, Gay released Hunger, her best-selling memoir about her experience with obesity, identity and the struggles to live comfortably in her body.” – The Root 100

“…Gay’s memoir, Hunger, peels back the layers of the gut-wrenching trauma she experienced as a child, and her perspectives on obesity and a life lived in a society obsessed with appearances. It’s her sixth book and her most visceral. That ability to pour deep from inside, even while she’s so observant about the outer world, is why we love her.”

Issa Rae | Screenwriter, Producer, Director, Actress, Author | Root #25
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
by Issa Rae

“Rae is the beautiful mind behind HBO’s Insecure, which just wrapped up its second season.” – The Root 100

In this universally accessible “New York Times” bestseller named for her wildly popular web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae a singular voice with the verve and vivacity of uncorked champagne (“Kirkus Reviews”) waxes humorously on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits and black as cool.

Ibram X. Kendi | Author, Professor of History | Root #29
Stamped From The Beginning
Stamped From The Beginning
by Ibram X. Kendi

“Kendi won the 2016 National Book Award in Nonfiction for his tome Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and is the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.” – The Root 100

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading pro-slavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

Angie Thomas | Author | Root #30
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

“Thomas’ best-selling, young-adult novel, The Hate U Give, is a National Book Award nominee and is being made into a movie starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall and Issa Rae.” – The Root 100

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does–or does not–say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Luvvie Ajayi | Author, Blogger | Root #37
I’m Judging You
I'm Judging You
by Luvvie Ajayi

“Luvvie Ajayi’s debut, best-selling book, I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual, is being crafted into a cable comedy series by Shonda Rhimes.” – The Root 100

With over 500,000 readers a month on her enormously popular blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com, Luvvie Ajayi is a go-to source for smart takes on pop culture. I’m Judging You is her debut book of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives from the importance of the newest Shonda Rhimes television drama to serious discussions of race and media representation to what to do about your fool cousin sharing casket pictures from Grandma’s wake on Facebook.

Samantha Irby | Writer, Author | Root #54
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
by Samantha Irby

“Samantha Irby is the author of the New York Times bestseller We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, which was released in May.” – The Root 100

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire.

With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., “bitches gotta eat” blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette–she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”–detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms–hang in there for the Costco loot–she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

Michael Twitty | Author, Culinary Historian | Root #60
The Cooking Gene
The Cooking Gene
by Michael Twitty

“The noted food historian and TED fellow is the author of The Cooking Gene, a book that traces his ancestral culinary history in the South.” – The Root 100

Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty brings a fresh perspective to our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry–both black and white–through food, from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touchpoints in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.

Brittney Cooper | Author | Root #69
The Crunk Feminist Collection
The Cooking Gene
by Brittney Cooper

“Author Brittney Cooper released two books in 2017, and has another on the way, that offer up scholarly takes on today’s hottest topics.” – The Root 100

For the Crunk Feminist Collective, their academic day jobs were lacking in conversations they actually wanted–relevant, real conversations about how race and gender politics intersect with pop culture and current events. To address this void, they started a blog. Now with an annual readership of nearly one million, their posts foster dialogue about activist methods, intersectionality, and sisterhood. And the writers’ personal identities–as black women; as sisters, daughters, and lovers; and as television watchers, sports fans, and music lovers–are never far from the discussion at hand

Brit Bennett | Author | Root #79
The Mothers
The Mothers
by Brit Bennett

“Brit Bennett’s debut novel, The Mothers, a coming-of-age tale about a young black woman growing up in Southern California, is a New York Times best-seller.” – The Root 100

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community and the things that ultimately haunt us most. Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

Tracy K. Smith | Poet, Author, Educator | Root #80
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
by Tracy K. Smith

“Smith was named poet laureate—the highest honor in poetry—by the Library of Congress.” – The Root 100

In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is the story of a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.

Wesley Lowery | Journalist, Author | Root #87
They Can’t Kill Us All
They Can't Kill Us All
by Wesley Lowery

“Wesley Lowery is the award-winning author of They Can’t Kill Us All, an in-depth look at the fight for justice for Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray, which is being developed for a TV series on AMC.” – The Root 100

In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the repose to Michael Brown’s death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown’s family and the families of other victims other victims’ families as well as local activists. By posing the question, “What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?” Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, and too few jobs.


We congratulate these influencers for not just sharing their words and wisdom but for also being ignitors of conversation and provocateurs of change.

Please share with us your thoughts on either of these titles in the comments section below.

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