In her collection of linked essays, Jerkins takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to "be"-- to live as, to exist as-- a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country's larger discussion about inequality. Jerkins exposes the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!!
1. Monkeys like you - Morgan, raised in a white middle class community, tries out for cheerleading and is not chosen. She becomes more aware of the differences in how black girls and white girls are perceived.
2. How to be docile - 22 reminders of how black women are commanded to live up to white eyes/expectations
3. The stranger at the carnival - all about her acceptance of, and finally joy in, her hair and body
4. A hunger for men's eyes - catcalling and porn viewing
5. A lotus for Michelle - a loving appreciation of Michelle Obama
6. Black Girl Magic - considering cultural appropriation, and bell hooks vs Beyoncé
7. Human, not black - Morgan's travels in Russia and Japan (she studied both languages at Princeton)
8. Who will write us? My favorite chapter, about what happens when white women write and make films about black women
9. How to survive: a manifesto on paranoia and peace - self-explanatory and I just have to add this one quote: "When a non-black person is complimenting you on your eloquence and presentability only because you adhere to the norm, this is not a compliment at all but a salute to white supremacy. You passed THEIR test, not your own."
10. A black girl like me - what black women owe each other
This is a must-read for white women who consider themselves "allies". Women of color will nod along, and there's plenty of learning from Morgan Jenkins to go around. I simply have no idea what men would do with this book. It's not for them.
This book is a magnificently-written scream of rage and fury. It's honest and sometimes funny and I read it in one sitting. Everyone should read this book; I hope it becomes super-successful. It lays out Jerkins's doubts and inconsistencies along with a sure and unwavering uplift for other Black women.
Jerkins ties together the personal with the systemic, the historical with the extremely current moment. It's so quotable that I stopped even trying to keep track of all the sentences I wanted to quote in this review. If you need a gift for a young person of any race or gender (especially a young Black woman) going out into the world this spring or summer, please give this book.