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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—perfect for fans of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Rebecca Solnit’s Men ExplainFrom 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—perfect for fans of Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.Morgan Jerkins is only in her twenties, but she has already established herself as an insightful, brutally honest writer who isn’t afraid of tackling tough, controversial subjects. In This Will Be My Undoing, she 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? This is a book about black women, but it’s necessary reading for all Americans.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. In This Will Be My Undoing, Jerkins becomes both narrator and subject to expose 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....

Title : this will be my undoing living at the intersection of black female and feminist in white america
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ISBN : 32326006
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Number of Pages : 258 Pages
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this will be my undoing living at the intersection of black female and feminist in white america Reviews

  • Roxane
    2019-04-10 12:58

    In Morgan Jerkins’s remarkable debut essay collection This Will Be Our Undoing, she is a deft cartographer of black girlhood and womanhood. From one essay to the next, Jerkins weaves the personal with the public and political in compelling, challenging ways. Her prodigious intellect and curiosity are on full display throughout this outstanding collection. The last line of the book reads, “You should’ve known I was coming,” and indeed, in this, too, Jerkins is prescient. With this collection, she shows us that she is unforgettably here, a writer to be reckoned with.

  • Jessica Woodbury
    2019-04-20 10:58

    I read a lot of books by women of color, and specifically black women. But I think THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING may be the single book that has most clearly showed me the experience of being a young black woman in America today. I am a white woman and I think part of the reason Jerkins succeeds so wildly is that she is not centering her book around readers like me. Much of what we encounter in the world centers on a default white audience. The fact that this book isn't "for me" is exactly why it works. This is not an effort to translate the experience of black women for other audiences, this book simply seeks to portray the experience of black women as purely as possible, with black women at its center.While this is a book of essays, it also feels much of the time like a work of memoir. The best essays are those most closely tied to Jerkins' own experience. She writes about her life with a clear-eyed wisdom that frankly makes me extremely jealous. She is not just vulnerable, but willing to identify and examine her own flaws and biases. That she is able to do this while still in her twenties is astonishing. I admit I had this book for weeks before I read it. It's a difficult world right now and I wasn't sure if I wanted to dive into a book like this. It turns out that once I started I sped through it and it felt good. I wasn't weighed down by these essays, instead they crystallized ideas, helped me see perspectives more clearly, and led me to my own journey of self-examination. It wasn't a depressing experience but an invigorating one.

  • Gabriella
    2019-04-14 12:12

    Wow...I think my main question about Morgan Jerkins' debut is similar to many on my timeline—what book were the rest of y'all reading?My first introduction to Jerkins was her black gentrifier essay, which I read in my freshman year at Penn. As a student attending a university responsible for many of our city's gentrification problems, I found the article to be introspective in a way many pieces aren't. Instead of scapegoating faceless institutions or white hipsters, Jerkins put her own privilege and complicity on the table.I think she tries to do the same in This Will Be My Undoing, but often fails miserably. Many Twitter readers were reasonably distressed by Jerkins' musings about her darker, lower-income black classmate, which, amongst other belated comebacks to her high school bullies (if we're calling them that), included a police violence fantasy. These are very upsetting, especially coming from an author desperately seeking to prove that she supports and stands for black women.It's not my place to gauge how much Morgan Jerkins loves black women, but from what I read, she seems to do so in an abstract, self-indulgent fashion that allows her to make a living (see: this book deal) opining about our pain and celebrating idyllic, trite, Blavity-esque notions of "black girl magic" while she remains uncomfortable with real-life black women who are louder, darker, and less helpful than she'd like them to be. As someone who is similarly classed, churched, and complexioned, I admittedly understand where she's coming from. Many of the aggressions our people (light, Protestant, well-to-do black folk) perpetuate are ingrained into our familial, communal, and religious experiences, so I personally wasn't surprised by Jerkins' hostility and superiority towards her non-AP track classmates. I'd hoped this book would attempt to unpack these emotions, since I'm sure I could check my own privilege from such a reflection. Instead, she writes off her harmful opinions about other black women as growing pains on her journey to "#blackgirlmagic." A stronger writer would’ve spent more time mining her personal experience of black girlhood, instead of presuming to speak on behalf of those she consistently deems below her. All of this mess would still warrant a 2-star review from me. After all, I found many conceptual problems with Naima Coster's debut, but at least Halsey Street had some stylistic merit. The other thing no one's really mentioning is the writing itself, which could've used some serious help—her list essays seem gimmicky, her tone is off-putting (especially in the cringe-worthy second-person moments), and her thought process is often jumbled (see my update at the 63% mark.) Honestly, if she'd taken more time to think about her ideas, assess the impact of her words, and solicit more honest editors, we likely wouldn't be having this conversation. In This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jerkins attempts to be unrestrained, and instead comes off as undisciplined in both her politics and her craft. I don't believe in cancelling people from one mistake, and really want to see how she addresses the pushback, but won't be rushing to read her future work.

  • Thomas
    2019-04-09 12:54

    A compelling essay collection that tackles the intersections of womanhood, blackness, and feminism. I would recommend This Will Be My Undoing to everyone - Jerkins centers black women in her writing so that demographic may find a home in her work, and the rest of us can listen and learn. Weaving the personal and political, she writes about how black women's bodies are viewed and treated as sexual objects, the ways that white women can do things like abuse drugs and share all the details and be rewarded whereas black women do not have that privilege, and other experiences of oppression and discrimination experienced by black women. Through critical analysis of pop culture, odes to Michelle Obama and Beyonce, and stories of her own coming-of-age, Jerkins crafts a powerful argument for black women's humanity. I am excited to read more of her work, especially as her voice becomes even more assured and refined.*Edit: 2/14/2018: I would encourage Jerkins and readers of this collection to question her writing about Japan and how it exotifies/others Japanese people, as if their country and lives are made for the purpose of helping people from America escape from their issues and learn about themselves.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-19 16:18

    Impressive. Needed. Challenging. Review to come.PS: She is younger than me. People who have written clever books like this one are now younger than me.

  • Emily May
    2019-04-12 14:53

    I call myself black because that is who I am. Blackness is a label that I do not have a choice in rejecting as long as systemic barriers exist in this country. But also, my blackness is an honor, and as long as I continue to live, I will always esteem it as such.This Will Be My Undoing is a fantastic portrait of one woman's experience with black girlhood. Jerkins explores through essays what it was like growing up as a black girl with racial divisions in school, white beauty standards, and race-based harassment. She is quick to acknowledge that her memoir is not a "one-size-fits-all" story, and that there are many different experiences among black women. As a personal memoir, it shines. Jerkins's raw honesty about her disdain for blackness and other black girls while growing up is tough to read, but necessary. She also speaks frankly about sex, desire, masturbation and her body. In "Human, Not Black" she reunites being a black woman with being human, reminding the reader that the two are not mutually exclusive; by calling herself a black woman, she is not denying the common humanity she shares with others.However, when Jerkins goes political - as she frequently does - the book is less effective. She resorts to stereotyping and contradictions, which seems to be the opposite of what she was reaching for.Throughout, Jerkins speaks of the "white woman" as a monolith. This elusive creature is beautiful, slender, straight, wealthy, upper middle class and a Trump voter. "Supported, cared for, and coddled" universally. To Jerkins, it seems that queer, poor and fat white women do not exist. If this were a work of fiction, I might think this an intentional play on traditional white literature that has frequently portrayed black people as a stereotypical monolith, but it seems Jerkins genuinely has not considered that white girls exist outside of this narrow definition.Strangest of all was when Jerkins pointed out that 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton and 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump, and then proceeded to treat "white woman" as synonymous with "Trump voter", completely ignoring the millions who voted for Clinton. Additionally, Jerkins still needs to work out some of her own double standards. In one essay, "A Hunger For Men’s Eyes", she defends the black and Latino men in the Shoshana Roberts street harassment video, questioning whether the men calling at her to “have a nice day” or calling her “beautiful” was really harassment. However, Jerkins is not so understanding when such comments are directed at herself. Men complimenting her beauty and asking her if “[she] was having a good time” at a party are sexual aggressors. When one man asks if he can take her on a date, she lies by telling him she has a boyfriend, to which he responds “Well, he better be treating you right.” Jerkins then adds in her own head “In other words, He better be treating you right or else you gon’ be mine.”I longed for the parts where Jerkins dropped the social commentary on society at large and returned to her own experiences. For non-black readers, she has a lot to offer in terms of insight into black girlhood; for black readers, I hope she extends a hand of understanding and normalizes their experiences with race, beauty and sexuality.It is often said that the "personal is the political" but here they feel separate - a personal that offers deep, important insight, and a political that, in short, does not.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  • Rebel Women Lit
    2019-03-20 18:00

    Thank you to Harper Perennial for an advanced readers copy of "This Will Be My Undoing" in exchange for an honest review.Now more than ever, owing to social media and online publications, black women are at the center of discourse; both as subject matter and narrator. "This Will Be My Undoing" sees Morgan Jerkins, a young black woman, interlacing her personal experiences with historical and modern sources to underscore black girlhood and womanhood against the white backdrop of America. With her unmistakable intellect, Morgan carries us across the landscape of black female existence. From the stripping of young black girls' childhood innocence and black women's centuries of emotional labour to they're daily fight for autonomy over their physical bodies. Through the lenses of her own experience navigating predominantly white spaces, Morgan displays the full gamut of systemic, emotional, social and generational issues that black women face.What was most appreciated about "This Will Be My Undoing" was the fact that the exploration of black womanhood did not stop at the burdens that black women face every time they meet a new day. What was alarmingly clear, especially in the final chapters of this memoir-esque essay collection, was her humanisation of black women. They feel love, pain, grief joy and happiness. They have hopes, dreams, aspirations and create art. Morgan's emphasis on celebrating ourselves as an inherent act of resistance was a necessary punctuation to this collection. #BlackGirlMagic Equally appreciated is how relatable and understandable this book is. Because Morgan's writing is descriptive and enlists the use of literary devices, it removes a barrier that academic writing often erects. It gives access to the understanding of complex systems of oppression to persons who academia sometimes neglect and, for that reason, we would recommend this collection to persons who are new to black feminism, who desire a fundamental understanding of its tenets. "This Will Be My Undoing" will make waves and so will Morgan. #RebelWomenLit- Kristina Neil

  • Chris
    2019-03-26 15:00

    Feb 2018 My Book Box Non-fiction pick.Disclaimer: I am a white woman. Additionally, I teach students who come from the same places in New Jersey that Jerkins cites in this book. I am trying not to center myself in the narrative, but the first paragraph of the review is in part a gut reaction, so please bear with me.I am conflicted about this book. The thing that Jerkins does and does is generalize. These sweeping generalizations are off putting. I’m not even talking about the whole voting for Trump thing. A high percentage of white woman voted for Trump, and these are the women she speaks about there (the grammar backs this up, so if someone is complaining about that, that's misguided to put it nicely). No, I’m talking about like in her discussion of the French film Girlhood. I remember the discussion and reaction to that movie. While Jerkins' take on the film is overall interesting, she makes it sound like Black women all across the global are exactly alike. Look, I’m not a black woman, so maybe, for all I know, this is true. But I would imagine that recent immigrants to France who come from Africa also have a whole set of issues that are not related to being slaves in America – connected to the slave trade and colonialism, yes - and are different than an African-American woman from whereever USA. She does the same when she talks about white girls at her school, and how they never had to deal with being assaulted, harassed or molested sexually because their whiteness protected them. In fact, the one time she does mention harassment towards a woman who at the very least presents as white, she is almost dismissive of it. I’m not disregarding or ignorant to misogynoir that exists, and it is far easier to be female and white. However, I teach students (white, black, Asian, and Native American, some of whom present white, so I doubt another sweeping generalization Jerkins makes), and I know that the number of all-female students who have been sexually molested or harassed (or raped) by their lower and secondary school’s peers (as I have been) is great. In fact, it is a rarity to have a class where a female student hasn’t been (and the classes have far more ladies than gentlemen). I found the dismissal and generalization hard, perhaps cruel.But that’s the point isn’t it? The world has been belittling or simply out right ignoring the pain of black women and girls for hundreds of years. This is what Jerkins is talking about. She’s showing the reader here a bit of it, whether Jenkins intended to do so or not.What’s the term? Checking my privilege? Humbling?It’s why I am conflicted about this book. Feminism should be intersectional. To be so, we need to listen to everyone, talk, and listen without judgement or hackle raising. We need to listen and need to have voices like Jerkins’. In many ways, I think Twitter and Facebook have made the knee jerk reaction easier and far more dangerous. True conversation means listening to unpleasant and hard truths (whether an individual’s truth or the truth – is there even THE Truth?). Whatever I think about what Jerkins is saying, I have no doubt that she is speaking her truth and should be listened to because her experience is just as valuable and important as mine, as yours, as Clinton’s, as even Ivanka’s (yeah, I know, me too).This doesn’t mean that I am blind to the book’s faults. Jerkins does go off on some strange digressions. She wanders at points, and her progression in some of the essays could be far, far tighter. I’m also reading Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine, and Union does consistently what I wish Jerkins had done more – introspection. For instance, when Jerkins is relating about her watching of porn, there are so many other themes that could have been touched on – to porn actors connection to abuse, to a society that is designed to make one group of women take joy in the degradation of another (I have no doubt that there are nonblack women who watch/watched the same material that Jerkins did, just different races). I found myself thinking how Union, Gay, or Robinson might have done better. In some of the essays, this lack of connection or whatever, makes the essay weaker and digressions more annoying.Yet, at least half the essays are stand outs. Her “How to Be Docile” and “How to Survive” should be in every composition and woman’s studies class. Period. They are that good furthermore. Furthermore, her “The Stranger at the Carnival” is just, quite frankly, a masterpiece. Two sections of Malcolm X’s Autobiography tend to appear in composition readers – his learning to read in prison and his first conk. Usually the conk selection is paired with Gates’ essay about his mother’s kitchen and the importance of the kitchen in the family. But after reading Jerkins’, her essay should be paired with it because not only is hers a more recent presentation of the issue, but because she is a woman and raises other points. Quite frankly, it is even better than Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair.Conflicted about this book I might be, but I am glad I read it. You should read it too. You need to read it.

  • Obsidian
    2019-04-05 15:08

    Sigh. I don't know what to say. This collection of essays is very good. Jerkins goes into the highs and lows of being a black woman in America. She goes into what it means to be a black woman while on travel (Russia and Japan). She goes into being a black woman trying to be successful, but still treated like she's from another world since many black men out there don't know what to do with a black woman who is out there being a success and doesn't have time for their foolishness. Jerkins goes into the cycles of black women in America. When you are just a kid and realize that your hair is going to take a lot of your time/sanity to deal with since you get treated a certain way if your nice is "ethnic." How she felt being one of the smartest girls in her school and how that caused backlash among other black girls. From there she goes into going to Princeton college and finding herself un-dateable. I had the opposite problem when I went to the University of Pittsburgh. I just used to lie and tell people I was in a relationship to be left alone. I was focused on finishing undergraduate and that was it. When I did get into graduate school was when I went and found a dude who wasn't worth anything. I am still mad that I loaned this boy (seriously he was such a child) money and he had the nerve to act like I was not being a "good" black woman since I refused to cook for him after coming home from an internship and classes. A few years ago he sent me a Facebook friend request. I was never so happy to block someone in my life.A lot of Jerkins essays though go in unexpected ways. Her essay about Michelle Obama actually made me sad and mad. I still cannot believe how much Michelle Obama was attacked by the media and conservatives out there. I don't blame her for not running for office in 2020. I would be sitting on a beach and just drinking all the wine. Another essay I loved was the one Jerkins wrote about how powerful Beyonce is to black women out there and how her latest album, Lemonade, touched a lot of us in many ways. You start to think you are the only one out there struggling with things, because as black women we are taught to keep our pain inside. Keep on walking, stay strong, don't ask for help, etc. Constantly being on guard to make sure you speak "right" around mixed groups, to not be the "angry black woman" so people can dismiss your points is exhausting as hell. Though I gave this four stars, I still marked it as a favorite. The only reason why I gave this four stars is that in some of the essays, Jerkins jumps around a lot that can get a bit confusing if you don't have context for some of the things she is talking about. Though I liked her essay on "Black Girl Magic" she goes into what the movement was about, how some people attacked it, and then a personal subject about a medical procedure she decided to undergo. It was a bit crowded in there for me in that chapter. I would have liked it if it was broken up. I also just liked the "How to Survive: A Manifesto on Paranoia and Peace" was not for me. I liked "How to be Docile" much better since she uses similar writing styles in both essays. I have never heard of Jerkins before, but am going to go out and take a look at some of her writing as soon as possible.

  • Janani
    2019-03-26 11:22

    The thing that makes this book absolutely spectacular is that it doesn't center non-Black people. Morgan writes about what it is like to be a young Black woman in America, without diluting the content for those of us who aren't Black women, and it works brilliantly. This is a collection with a memoir-esque feels, interweaving a lot of personal experiences with community experiences. There is a lot of self-examination- she isn't afraid to discuss her flaws. She's also unapologetic about her strengths. This is not an easy read, but it is a necessary one.

  • Chanda Prescod-weinstein
    2019-03-27 18:01

    Chapter 9 is great. There are some good threads elsewhere. There is some really problematic writing about Black women in here that literally made me feel that awful feeling in my chest. I wish Morgan had been pushed more to work on her prose here — but more, to work on what she was saying, about whom, and why. I am so confused about why Black women are so heavily targeted and why there are thinly veiled attacks on well-known Black women writers. She also speaks in general terms about Black mothers that don’t really make sense as a generality. Still, I hope Morgan keeps writing and learns from this experience. She clearly has the skills.This is less central to the book’s problems but: the orientalist writing about Japan was very ??????

  • MissFabularian
    2019-04-06 15:14

    Welp...I now know more about Morgan Jerkin's vagina than I do my own...If you'd like to read the rest of this review and see Elle Fashion's book trailer for this book CLICK HERE.

  • Ylenia
    2019-04-16 18:05

    ...that saying I feel for you to a woman unlike yourself means you somehow share in experience, is one of the pitfalls that plagues mainstream feminism. It signals to women of color that their stories are only worth telling if a white person can understand them, and therefore that a white person's emotions and responses are of greater importance than the stories themselves. We cannot come together if we do not recognize our differences first.These differences are best articulated when women of color occupy the center of the discourse while white women remain silent, actively listen, and do not try to reinforce supremacy by inserting themselves in the middle of the discussion.I think I found a new favorite person.

  • Nicole Froio
    2019-04-01 17:53

    THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING is a book about the experiences of a young black woman in America. Jerkins writing is nothing short of addictive, I devoured this book and learned a lot from it. She writes with honesty, weaving her own experiences with historical references about black culture and resistance, writing and art that made her think, black people who inspire her and white people who disappoint her. Jerkins' writing is complex and her reasoning is nuanced, and she makes clear that this book is for other black women by addressing them specifically in a couple of chapters. As a Latina woman, I understand this book was not specifically written for me, but I find it important to read books that are outside of my own scope of experiences and this books is excellent.

  • Kenya Wright
    2019-03-27 10:10

    This isn't a beach read.You'll probably be pretty angry after reading this book.But then you'll probably also gain some understanding of American society through a black woman's eyes. And even if you're a black woman, understanding still comes.Many times I thought she's gone into my head and just wrote things down. I remember wanting to be a white girl, when I was a kid. I remember the horror of perms and the fear of looking too black, too African, and acting too much like an angry black women. She's insanely honest in this work--from exposing her deepest insecurities to explaining her masturbation pornography preferences. I laughed. I cried. I was angry a whole lot.Again, this isn't a beach read.But it is a great cup of coffee in this drug induced reality we're calling 2018.

  • Keyona
    2019-03-25 14:15

    There's much to say about this book but I will keep it brief and come back if I need to. This book is exactly what I had hoped and more. This book should be required reading for black women. It is not watered down so that white people can feel comfortable while reading because it isn't about them. If they want to read and learn something then great. Morgan gives us her experience as a black woman in America and basically says " Yea, I know". We may not have had the exact experiences but same script different actors. I know this frustration, this pain, this sense of being on the outside and never getting a foot in. Chapter 12 made me cry because I sometimes wonder "Is it just me? Morgan says no, it's her too. We have been told that we need to assimilate or be deemed as ghetto, aggressive, or unkempt. This book is a celebration of black women and I just loved it. She has footnotes and references that support her claims which I appreciate. It is a coming of age story because in the beginning she speaks of wanting to be white and doing all she could to disassociate herself from the other black people she came in contact for fear of looking even blacker. That is a REAL thing in our community. Morgan is unflinchingly raw in this book. She even has an entire chapter on the ins and outs of her vagina. That is bravery and I look forward to reading more of her work.

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    2019-03-28 13:08

    Good essay collection on race and feminism. Very intimate and revealing episodes from her life are paired with relevant social commentary.

  • Xavier (CharlesXplosion)
    2019-04-06 16:01

    A powerful, unflinching introspective collection of essays focusing on the experience of the black female in today's society.

  • Jane
    2019-04-01 16:55

    This might be more like a 3.75...?

  • CoCo Massengale
    2019-03-22 16:15

    3.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this essay collection. Morgan Jerkins is so obviously talented and has a lot of important things to say, especially about the experience of black womanhood. This was a very meaty book—there are a lot of topics almost shoehorned into some essays. In general, the essays were too meandering for my taste; often I struggled to find the thread of her thought process and though she always circled back, sometimes she lost me. I thought this was particularly true is essays like “A Lotus for Michelle Obama” and “Black Girl Magic”. While many of the essays felt drawn out, there were always nuggets of brilliance that made me want to keep reading. I definitely had some favorites, including “How to Raise a Black Girl,” “Human, Not Black,” and “How to Survive: A Manifesto on Paranoia and Peace.” Overall, this is a strong debut from a young author, and I expect to see great things from her in the future.

  • Senshin
    2019-04-11 11:19

    I'm blown away. So beautifully written. Will be reading again. I want to have my kids read this when they are old enough to understand.

  • Kayla
    2019-04-16 13:01

    This book is EVERYTHING to me. As a Black woman who has existed in primarily white environments, Jerkins words are validating on so many levels. She's is gloriously accurate in articulating many of the thoughts and feelings I've had about being a Black woman in a white world: So many topics, like black women and their hair; whether or not it's appropriate for non-Black people to write about Black women's experiences; "race traitors"; and why it actually is all about race. There is so much to be found in the pages of Jerkins memoir, especially as a Black woman. I look forward to reading more of her work!

  • Chelsea
    2019-03-28 17:03

    Sadly, I had to DNF This Will Be My Undoing 33 percent in because the descriptions of sex and pornography in particular were too triggering for me. I gave this memoir a second chance after my initial panic attack, but when I picked this back up again, it seemed like that topic was a recurring theme throughout the book and I can't put myself through it.If this hadn't been so triggering, I really would've liked to continue it. This is a very interesting memoir by a black woman in the United States and I would recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by Jerkins herself.I am white, so it isn't up to me to critique these essays, but as a queer person, I thought Jerkins' idea of a woman was rather cissexist and heteronormative, e.g.talking about vaginas and being attracted to the "opposite sex" (which is also cissexist). If she is talking about herself that's fine, but don't use such exclusionary language when talking about women in general.It was clear that Jerkins did a lot of research, but sometimes, she included way too many details. It's proves that she knows what she's talking about, but I didn't find those details necessary as a regular reader.content and trigger warnings for racism, mentions of slavery, bullying, mentions of suicide, "Native New Jersey-ans" =/= Indigenous people, mentions of sexual harassment, sexual coercion (oral sex), sex (M/F), descriptions of ejaculation and masturbation, graphic descriptions of pornography, mentions of rape, ableist languageKeep in mind though that I only read 33% of this novel, so this list of content and trigger warnings is not complete!

  • Martha Toll
    2019-04-04 14:15

    Read it.

  • Katy
    2019-04-11 14:18

    I went into this book fully expecting to love it and came out of it comparing Morgan Jerkins with Lena Dunham. Make no mistake, there are some good essays in here—like the insightful “How to Raise a Black Girl” which details why she specifically calls herself a black woman instead of simply a human being—but I was not prepared for the heaping dose of self-righteousness alongside an appalling lack of acknowledgement regarding the author’s enormous class privilege. Jerkins undoubtedly has some relevant reflections on race and gender, but I was floored by her superior attitude toward non-middle-class peers who were not Ivy League-bound and horrified that she never addressed her own privileged background and experiences. I was also confused by her statement that black women are not a monolith and then her repeated generalizations of black women. Halfway through this book, I wanted to quit, but I decided to persevere because I thought Jerkins had a valuable perspective to offer even if some of the topics she delved into were frankly bizarre (i.e. her unironic crediting of an “act of God” with her decision to not engage in casual sex, her belief that God actively cares about her sex life, and her insistent belief in the Holy Spirit filling Christians with the ability to “speak in tongues” and predict the future). This Will Be My Undoing was not for me but I imagine it would go over well with religious audiences.

  • Karen Ashmore
    2019-03-27 10:09

    In this incisive collection of essays that examines blackness, feminism, misogyny and racism, Jerkins writes of her personal experiences growing up as one of the few blacks girls in her predominantly white town, public schools, AP classes, and Princeton. She juxtaposes this influence on her decision to study non-Black languages and cultures (she is fluent in Japanese and Russian) with her desire to live in Harlem as part of the gentrified influx. I enjoyed the essays of her girlhood, college and early career but look forward to reading more as she matures from a twenty-something societal explorer to a more seasoned black woman with sharp insight into the dynamics of race, gender, class. In other words, she will keep getting better with age!

  • Edshara
    2019-03-26 18:16

    I feel like other reviewers have better critiqued this book, however, I will try to add my thoughts. For the most part, I liked, this book. I felt like much of what Morgan Jerkins said was relatable, honest and very true. With that said their were some things that she mentioned that I didn't agree with. I wished that I owned this book, instead of getting it from the library, because I would have liked to take more time with it. I found that even though their were plenty of breaks within the essays, they were long, and I ended up just powering through.I may try purchasing this book in the future, to reread so that I can give better examples of the good and the bad. I know this isn't much of a review but I do think this is still worth a read, if you want to give it a try.

  • Bryan Cebulski
    2019-04-10 10:14

    SO GOOD. And such a smooth follow up after I just read Ijeoma Uluo's So You Want to Talk About Race. Where Oluo's work speaks out toward the masses, giving much-needed guidance on how we approach race, using personal anecdotes to describe larger patterns of racism, microaggressions, discrimination, etc., Jerkins' work navigates similar subjects instead through a more introspective lens. So many candid, thoughtful essays, none of which feels superfluous or self-aggrandizing, unlike many essay collections and memoirs written by deeply uninteresting people that we've seen recently. Sexual anxiety, Russian literature, black hair, what it means to be unapologetically black, the contrast of shopping while black in the US versus in Japan--Jerkins weaves so much into her pieces. This work illustrates the strength of Jerkins' simply being in the world and knowing the worth of her thoughts and words. Again, so good.

  • Naeemah Huggins
    2019-03-28 13:59

    This book was highly anticipated, by me. When Roxane Gay gave it good reviews, I put the release date on my calendar. It did not disappoint, however, it did shock. She speaks a lot about troubles with her vulva, elongated lips, masturbation to stop the 'burning'. I didn't know that I was this much of a prude until I read this book. My perceived elevated mental state stalled under the weight of her intimacy. I felt that I shouldn't be hearing it, it wasn't for my ears. Despite the waves of shock and discomfort, I did identify with her on some her dating wavelengths. Her struggles are my struggles, feeling unseen and experiencing rattled confidence because of it. As a whole it was a good read of essays on where educated black women are in 2018, what we think about and how we move through white spaces. She is sharp and acerbic and I hope I hear more from her.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-02 18:22

    A mixture of memoir and the history of black women, Morgan Jerkins is unflinchingly honest. Her essays are both educational and philosophically soul-bearing. Obviously as a white woman I can’t fully understand Jerkins’ interactions and perspective, but I respect the hell out of the vulnerability she lays out and conquers in her memoir sections. She has so many great points about intersectional feminism, black women in film and tv, and the cultural ramifications of it all.