This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins


I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I had never heard of the author and while the subtitle was pretty clear, it also left a lot for me to wonder about. This book is one woman’s, Morgan Jerkins, insights on the intersection of Black female feminism in America.

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From one of the fiercest critics writing today, Morgan Jerkins’ highly-anticipated collection of linked essays interweaves her incisive commentary on pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny, and racism with her own experiences to confront the very real challenges of being a black woman today.

This collection of essays floats between specific moments from Jerkins life to historical, political, and cultural moments in the history of Black women in America. Jerkins takes us through her personal experiences and uses them to show us what they mean in the greater context of the life of Black women.

Where Jerkins shines most is with her openness about sharing the intimate details of her life. There were even moments where I felt embarrassed by how much she shares, it appears very little is off limits. Her courage when it comes to discussing the most private details of her life allows us to see Jerkins specifically, and black women in general, as more in depth and complex than they’re often presented in American culture.

Jerkins is sharing her personal observations and experiences, and they are unique to her. Like everyone else, her opinions are flawed and contradictory. I didn’t agree with sections of the book, but I did respect her writing and her thought processes. Jerkins harbors some resentment toward Black women, despite her writing this book as a champion of Blackness. Its contradictory and confusing, and ultimately something she is clearly grappling with throughout. Some of the threads in the essays, feel incomplete or in search of a point. The subject matter is complex and it feels as if Jerkins is still working through a lot of it throughout each essay. Some sections really land, and some fall short for me. This is her debut book and I’m excited for her following works.

For the most part I would suggest you read this book. Representation matters, and of course Black women are not a monolith, and that is made very clear in these essays.  Remember to take Jerkins’ work as what it is, one woman’s experience and a opinions on her life to this point. 

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We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Do not judge this small book by its size. It packs a major punch, it is emotional and visceral, and it is enjoyable to read. 

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The highly acclaimed, provocative New York Times bestseller—a personal, eloquently-argued essay, adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah. Here she offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Simple. Direct. Smart. This book is a taste of what it means to be a feminist. Adichie dips her toe into the most basic tenets of feminism, from equal treatment across the genders to calling out misogyny as it occurs in real time, as well as raising boys and girls to treat each other with mutual respect from a young age.

Adichie is conversational in tone (which makes sense since this comes from a TED talk.) and casual with her stories, yet biting as she articulates her observations of misogyny. The book doesn’t dive deep into any one thing, it doesn’t have time, its 48 pages. But it does cut to the point, women should be respected and should be treated as equal to men, and that both men and women are responsible for making the societal changes. Feminism isn’t only the responsibility of women.

Plus, excerpts of this talk/book are in Beyonce’s Flawless, therefore this book is perfect.

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Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi


I was very nervous to read this book. When it came in the mail, it was huge, and that really freaked me out. I should have expected a huge book given the fact that racist ideas in America are almost never ending, but actually seeing this book and holding it in my hands was intimidating. It sat on my shelf for about six months before I actually started it.

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In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Ibram X. 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 life stories of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. 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 proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

This is one of the most ambitious books I’ve ever read. Kendi is taking on racist ideas in America, and that is no small task. He expertly guides the reader through debates about race taking place at any given time in the US. He presents the different sides, and exposes the thinking that has shaped American culture since its earliest days.. His ambition pays off, not only is this book detailed and expansive, it is clear and direct. Kendi won The National Book Award for Non-Fiction with Stamped from the Beginning, and it is well deserved.

At the risk of sounding cliche, and in all earnestness, this book is eye-opening and life changing. It is an academic exploration of things we’ve come to know anecdotally as residents of the United States, but have never truly grappled with. This book gives background to standardized testing, affirmative action, popular films and so much more. Kendi is relentless in his dissection of racist ideas and the cultural importance they have had. For example he spends time talking about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gone with the Wind, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X to illustrate how pivotal these books were in spreading ideas about Black Americans across the country and the world.

Kendi is patient with his reader and explains things in detail. Dissecting key moments in American history, both culturally and legislatively, to develop the progress of racist, assimilationist, and antiracist thoughts over time. From the start of slavery through to the presidency of Barack Obama there is never a dull moment for the reader or for racist ideas. Kendi is there to help the reader make sense of it all and give ideas their proper context and in turn show the extent of their reach.

This book was challenging to read. I struggled and reread many passages to make sure it was all sinking in. That was part of the enjoyment of this book, really being challenged to grapple with the ideas and the text.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone. Especially if you consider yourself an antiracist or an ally in the fight for equity in this country, or if you’re interested in learning more about Blackness and anti-Blackness.

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Reprint edition (August 15, 2017)
  • 5/5 stars
  • Buy Stamped from the Beginning on Amazon

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