Almost 20 years after Rikeem Sholes enlisted in the Navy, he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in biology at Washington State University. In his research, he strives to advance the global pool of knowledge in his scientific discipline while also making sure that science is made accessible for all people.
While Rikeem’s passion for science has set him on this career path, it has not stopped him from pursuing other projects to make his impact on the world. As an avid reader, Rikeem was excited when he came across a scratch off poster called “100 Books You Should Read Before You Die.” He quickly realized however, that the majority of the books on this poster had been written by white American or European authors. This motivated him to then search for a similar poster featuring the books written by Black authors, to which he was met with a void.
Given the current political climate and racial tension in our country, Rikeem was inspired to fill this void and further advance the conversations, the education, and the understanding of the Black experience in America. This has led him to create his own poster, “100 Books by Black Authors.”
The poster features a foil scratch off that reveals an image related to the book and Rikeem describes this as a “roadmap” to learning more about the Black experience. “For Black people, I want them to come away from this poster being proud of how far we’ve come since coming to this country,” he said. “For everybody, I would also hope that we can look at my culture and be able to see the past, and not be dismissive of it.
“Once we see that past and see that history from the lens of a Black individual, it will help us all move forward as allies to make this country more just and equitable.”
This balance was important to Rikeem as he wanted this poster to show the struggles as well as the triumphs of the Black experience. The poster features books across numerous literary genres, giving readers a snapshot of the Black experience at the time as well as opportunities for escapism. Although originally thought as an educational tool for Black teens, Rikeem believes this poster is suitable and beneficial for readers from all backgrounds, 15 years old and up.
You can get your copy of Rikeem’s “100 Books by Black Authors” poster on his Etsy page, PremierePosterz.