Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life, Kim McLarin, Ig Publishing, 2019, 182 pp
In this brilliant and truthful essay collection, Kim McLarin covers just about every aspect of living in America as a Black woman. I was enlightened, amused, made quite uncomfortable at times, and impressed over and over by her intelligence. You know I have a thing for intelligent women.
Everything she covers is important to a grown or growing woman: on-line dating, depression, racial injustice in the courts, anger, marriage, motherhood, bad partners, revenge vs non-violence, and more. The whole perspective is a Black woman's. I know, it says that in the subtitle, but it bears repeating.
The essay that punched me the hardest, "Becky and Me," considers friendship between Black and White women. As I read I felt there was not any way for me to be a good friend to a Black woman. I had to look at why I have not had a Black female friend since the third grade. I spent hours trying to figure out how I could make a Black female friend at this point in my life and to reason out why I do not even cross paths with Black women in my daily/social activities. I wondered if Kim McLarin would accept me as a friend and truthfully I felt unworthy, unsure of myself, even kind of rejected.
As I gradually got over myself, I realized (not for the first time) that Black Americans have spent way more time observing and figuring out White Americans than we have spent attempting to get a true picture of them. It was James Baldwin who got me started thinking about all that but he is a man.
My education is not complete, nor is my experience. The inherent and continuously glossed over racism in this country will give us problems for a long time to come, perhaps always and forever. This book is a valuable resource I think for both Black and White women and men.
Kim McLarin is bold, intelligent, relentless and brave as a writer and as a human being, but what stood out most for me in her collection was her honesty. A Grown Black Woman Speaks. Yes, she does.
(Womanish is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)