I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately, primarily by women. There are other posts about these memoirs waiting in the wings, like “memoirs about mental illness,” but for now I want to focus on three excellent memoirs written by amazing, inspiring Black women.
Last year, a patron named Clayton Adams showed me an amazing story that taught me a lot about injustice, resiliency, and hope. It began with trust, followed by deception and injustice, and ends with justice and reunion. And the fact that this story happened at all and that we can go out and read or watch it (I encourage you to do both) is what ultimately gives me hope that we will progress. This story is called Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
At the same time that Black women are outpacing others in the post-graduate arena, many young Black women are being left behind in public schools, marginalized by punitive and surveillance systems embedded into our education programs and into society at large. Black girls make up 16 percent of the public school population, but represent more than one-third of all girls with a school-related arrest.
I never knew the true texture of my hair until I was in my mid-twenties. The time I spent at my aunt’s shop meant slapping a relaxer on my hair and smoothing it out until she was convinced my hair would be straight enough for the gods. I never went too long without a relaxer for fear of the new growth or “naps” underneath, a severely flawed fear passed down from generation to generation.