Friday, January 22, 2021

Book Review; Shifting: A Perspective on the Complexity of Being a Black Woman in America.

February 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Book Club/Book Reviews, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( It is not a secret that black women live a gifted but difficult life in America. Though what we represent has been appropriated in several areas, who we are is often unaccepted and penalized. It has never been popular to be a black woman from the plantation to now. To survive we must tread multiple faces in every space we inhabit. It feels as if there is no true place to lay one’s burdens down and simply feel free. In the workspace we present a version of self that is not authentic, but it is preferred by our white counterparts. It can be said that a version of this “switch” shows itself in every aspect of our life as we move through relationships, motherhood, spirituality, and any other area we need to live. In the book “Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America” Charisse Jones and Dr Kumea Shorter-Gooden survey over 300 black women and interview over 70 to have a discussion about the concept of “shifting” and how this affects black women.

It is important to note broken down into ten chapters that begins with the pain black women face in gender silence, and the questing of womanhood. I feel the book begins at the root of a matter. We can’t discuss any other area that we are not allowed to be free within self until there is an open conversation about why our womanhood was stripped during enslavement. It was refreshing to see this issue of womanhood and the deep hurt tackled from the beginning. Women at work, battling with depression, and dealing with beauty was pertinent. Within those chapters there are many spaces whereby several black women reading may find themselves, and feel their grievance is addressed. In those chapters I can agree there is some relief in feeling you are seen, and your experience has a voice.

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Motherhood hit me hard because it is an area that is attached to womanhood and policed. It was refreshing to know black women were allowed to open up about the difficulties of motherhood as it can be a reminder of the initial motherhood discussion.  The book becomes difficult outside of just one’s perspective on self in the area that deals with romance and spirituality. It is the space whereby you have to acknowledge the research pool isn’t as large as we need to look at relationships with balance, and even when we do that is a difficult discussion. There are black men that are intimidated by us and whether they realize it or not they have grafted the white patriarchy mentality of controlling “their woman”. This situation silences a woman in a relationship, and it can silence and shut her down in the church. This is something we need to have a voice to speak out against while acknowledging this is not every situation and it might not be the case the majority of the time.

“Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America” is a great book to begin a conversation within community amongst black women. It would be a good idea for your next book club. It would be interesting to see a book like this that addresses the same areas foe black men. When reading this, and books like it, black women want to be sure to acknowledge what pains them, and the areas where they may cause the pain especially within relationships. This is a good start on the journey of acknowledging where we shift, why we shift, and coming into oneself. This is a step towards choosing freedom.

Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America” by Charisse Jones and Dr Kumea Shorter-Gooden can be found on Amazon, or anywhere books are sold.

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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