Wow…wow, wow! I have never been excited to read a book as an adult but that changed when the universe brought Slay In Your Lane into my life.
The one word that I would choose to describe “The Black Girl Bible” is needed. Written by, this is the book every black woman and girl needs in her black girl survival kit.
In last week’s newsletter I shared how even though this was written from a black British woman’s perspective, I was able to relate it. I am a black woman but I’m from the Caribbean and I think that is going to add a different element to my review.
Uh…I’ve never done a book review before so I’m gonna do it my way. First of all we know you need to get this book but, in breaking rules fashion, this is more than a book review – this is a book and life review.
Let’s keep it real – don’t sit here and come to the conclusion that I hate white people or say this book is racist. I don’t have the time or energy to spend hating white people. I’m sharing highlights from a book that is helpful for black women (and people) and I’m sharing personal experiences. Don’t do that thing where you try to reduce it and make it all about you.
This book covers a lot of topics and I could probably write a whole thesis on it, but I’m going to focus on the things that really resonated with me. Get a cup of tea. Hell, day drink babes – live life! Get cozy because this is a long but good (I hope) read.
SIYL brought up the fact that black faces are not represented in the media and also highlighted the problem that many black British creatives have to go to America to make it in their industry. This shocked me as I always thought there were so many opportunities here for black people given that this…this is London. This is England. This is Europe!
Don’t get me wrong, there are mostly black faces in my country but that doesn’t mean we don’t have racism or hurdles (else I would be sitting here boujee as hell saying this book isn’t necessary), but for some reason I always thought there were more opportunities afforded to black people in the UK just based on the fact that it’s the UK. I would see black British faces in American media not realizing they were chasing the same thing Caribbean artists were: a chance.
In this conversation, the book focuses on the fact that male creatives have a greater chance of making it and that is a no duh statement. As a creative myself, I’ve watched men from the Caribbean find a way where I found a struggle. But what I want to focus on more is the topic of colorism. SIYL acknowledged the media thrusts lighter women in our face as opposed to darker women.
Now what we not gone do today on Olliviette is start a skin color war as I have no time to entertain it. However, we shall speak about this particular topic in a mature manner.
There is no denying light skinned women are favored by the media. It’s true.
A part of the “representation matters” chatter is the need to see black people in all tones presented in the media. We are not three shades, we are not three tones or three hues. We are the muthafuckin range. Unfortunately, we only see a certain percentage of that range.
Let me tell you what I wished the book hit on a bit more – colorism in our homes, community and culture. I just wanted it to go deep. I feel how we are represented in the media and how we are loved and acknowledged in our communities (or not) go hand in hand.
Look at what is on Twitter right now making fun of darker women and causing hurt, shame, and further divide in our community. It’s maddening.
It’s not only important for a dark-skinned black girl or boy to see a version of themselves in movies or on tv to boost their self-esteem but it’s important for a lighter skinned black child to see it too. In my opinion, a lot of lighter skinned black children will hear positive comments about themselves and people who look like them, they will see a version of themselves as the clever sidekick to the white person but they will not see a positive version of the darker child.
Darker children are picked on in our community; they are called tar, roach, and monkey and this is further deepened by the fact that the media will cast the darker black person as the dummy, the person who is made fun of, the joke of the show.
Now should we only aspire to be the loveable sidekick of the white person? No. But hell, if that’s all we can be (at the moment cause we making strides) can we get the dark-skinned person in that role too? Can we stop putting down dark-skinned women and girls within our own community?
Call me cliche, call me whatever, but when I watched Black Panther a few things happened. One, I was hella loud in the movie – these people over here need to enjoy a movie. Damn. Two, I was in love with the fact that there were black people in front of my eyes and all of those black people were bosses. Not drug dealers, not hookers, not lost souls in need of saving (not that those stories are invalid cause hell it’s a story) but smart and powerful fighters, thinkers, and passionate black people.
I really wanted the book to go further into the conversation of how representation within our homes and communities really matter but it did a good job of highlighting how the media plays a big part with either not showing us at all, showing us in a limited sense or only showing those of us who can pass.
Taking control of the situation
Thanks to the internet, a point that is made several times throughout the book, black people are now able to change that narrative. The book highlighted how #OscarsSoWhite brought diversity to the Oscars and how movements like this, which was founded by a black woman, help change the conversation of representation in the media. We’re being encouraged to understand and note that we are part of the change and it’s not just about waiting around for directors, PR, agents, etc to make the first step for us.
Think about it, 2017 was the year of melanin. I’ve never seen such a wave of appreciation for blackness like I have last year. I was always here for it – I didn’t ride the wave, I’ve been saying I love my blackness. I appreciate the fact that this is not only a movement but an actual thought that black people are soaking up.
Brands like Fenty Beauty have really helped amp up the level of diversity we see in our everyday. Although Fenty Beauty is not the first makeup brand to have a large shade range, I believe it is the first company to really announce “we see you, we see your diversity”. The fact that we are saying this should be the norm and are calling brands out when they fail makes me feel like there is hope for the media, for marketing, and for brands to see beyond the paper bag test (cause let me tell you guys, I work in Marketing and that shit is real) and see color.
I hope the reader is able to move into the deeper ends of the conversation of how we are presented in the media and realize it’s partly tied to how we view ourselves. Instead of fighting about bullshit on Twitter we could be creating more movements that really force the change.
As a creative, I see no problem with moving to America, or anywhere for a better chance. Hell, I moved here for a better chance so…. MOVE. Just remember you’re going to have work twice as hard to get half as much….
Which brings us the Work section of the book. This section literally opens up with that thought, working twice as hard to get half as much.
In high school all the students around me were black because…it’s the Caribbean. I wasn’t introduced to this thought until I went to college in America. My first semester in college was a learning experience Things were drastically different, racism was strong, I didn’t understand why the white, rich students were busy having the time of their lives and everything magically floated into place for them.
That’s when my father explained my new reality. I’ll always have a taste of what it is to be the master of my own destiny having grown up in a black country. That was Eden.
Now I am living in the world – these people do not care about me, I am just an island girl. My daddy told me us island folk have to work twice as hard to get that step ahead.
You have to work twice as hard to prove you are more than an island girl, that you are as equal to a white man, a white woman and to other black men and black women out there.
In my experience, as that third world woman, I’ve had to work harder to get to the level where my black American and British people are at. That is my starting level – in a way my British sisters are a step ahead of me. I’m not mad at this and it’s not coming from a place of jealousy. There are more opportunities here (and in America) for black people than there are in certain places in the world. Facts.
Let me stress that again, I am not mad. I really want to push that point considering there is some African American vs other black people beef going on right now. I am not a part of that; I am on team black. I have no time to fight when we could literally be helping each other.
I understood what the authors were expressing when they spoke on this but I don’t want to turn this into a talk of who struggled more, cause we have all struggled and our struggles are all different.
If you don’t agree with what I just shared – it’s cool. Unload in the comment section, we can chat.
How much is work, work, work, work, work?
The work twice as hard thing also made me question, is part of it due to luck? SIYL points out it’s our hard work and hustle that gets us to the top. True. However, in my life almost every opportunity I ever had is because it was my “lucky day” and someone with authority (usually a white person) took pity on me, was bored, had a quota to fill or I just happened to slide in at the right time and they gave me that chance.
Again, this is my experience and this could be because coming from a Caribbean country where the population is smaller it’s even more evident that whiteness goes hand in hand with opportunities and a good life. White people are the ones making the rules and in charge of the magical moments (which is true mostly everywhere but over there it’s really in your face). For me, they’ve always been the ones that could get me to the next level.
In my past experience, it’s never been about getting help from your black friend who is paving a new path in tech or your girl who is on the board of this company – those people do not exist in the same way there as they do over here.
Back home, if you want “luck” you have to be around whiteness.
I’m not gon fight with the book, I feel like this is a moment where my Caribbean life is different to the British life. Let’s move to more highlights from the Work section.
Friendships and Mentors
I’m super weird, I sometimes sit and think “why would you want to be my friend” and I push people away. Mentors shape you and help steer you down the river of life. They’ve lived the experience and can help as you try to maneuver work, love and life.
It was the talk of friendships that really made me reflect. Yes, I am a weirdo that questions why anyone would like me, but I realized it’s something I do so I don’t get hurt. I don’t want to waste the energy to form a friendship only to see it blow up in my face. Real talk though, friendships give you an opportunity to have people in your corner. We need people to cheer us on, to vent to and laugh with.
Even something like this blog, aside from you the reader, only my partner knows bout it. I haven’t told anyone else and it made me question why is everything in my life a secret; why can’t I meet a friend for a coffee to gab about the blessings of my blog?
Did they just say…?
One more area that jumped out at me in this section was the topic of microaggressions. I struggle with microaggressions daily – I am in a lot of other spaces and the comments I receive on a regular basis have me questioning if what I’m hearing is okay, is it a compliment (it’s not), should I react and if it’s worth it.
Let me just leave this here with you – go to page 89 and read up on microaggressions. This section made me rethink the way I react to other human beings and their foolishness. I have a very short temper, I’m always ready to go.
If you don’t know what that means, basically all I’m saying is I will either lay you out verbally or we can head outside. Now I’m rethinking the game and I want to try to approach racism and microaggressions as a teachable moment. There will be an element of shade but I want to twist the situation to the point where I come out on top and not looking like the angry black woman. So thank you SIYL – this was my fav part of the entire book and the part that will probably change me the most.
Here’s where I get a little gangsta and where I share my I don’t give a fuck mentality.
I don’t give a fuck if (black) men want to date me or not. I gave up caring about that years ago. Remember that first semester of college I talked about earlier? Almost every black guy on my campus was dating a white girl and since this was my first time in the world, my heart was hurt.
In high school – there were only black boys and girls so guess who liked who? College rocked that hard. Back then I was hella ugly, hella awkward and weird so I knew they weren’t checking for me regardless, but when I would sit and ask these black guys why they made that choice…the conversation!
I felt bad for the girls they were dating; these men basically told me they were in it because white women did what they were told, didn’t have attitude, loved them through it all.
Right then, right there, I stopped caring. I don’t care who dates what, when or why. I am letting ya’ll know I don’t break my back doing pick me for anyone.
This section highlighted the fact that black men are more likely to date outside of their race while black women are just discovering we have that option.
Ladies. It is 2018. I am not saying you should abandon black men, but do realize there are men of other races who will treat you the way you deserve. I get it, there is nothing like the sexiness of a brother (whoooo black men be fine) but if you can open your heart to the possibility of dating outside of your race, try it.
This moves into another topic and one of the reasons why I’m very cautious about dating outside of blackness – chocolate. The book addressed the issue of fetishism and how black women have to deal with being seen as an object or being compared to chocolate. How many times have you heard “I’ve always wanted to taste chocolate…” as their big line.
Bitch, go to Tesco. Do I look like food? Is my name Snickers? No.
This is one of the biggest reasons why I am cautious about interracial dating because I cannot trust that I will be loved for my me. I am a foul-mouthed, Sailor Scout with a Master Sword – how you can reduce me to a piece of candy? Fuck I look like?
So SIYL presented two options and I think you’re just going to have to figure out where you stand. Do you stay outchea waiting for black men to uplift you, love you and adore you? Do you take a chance on a non-brotha and hope he doesn’t reduce you to some processed crap? There are good men (and women) out there who will love you for you, the thing is you have to find them. You can also stay single…
This part also highlighted how, as black women, we are the only ones to be told we better do x,y and z cause (insert your choice) women are coming for our spot. Again, let me stress, I don’t do pick me. I’m not gonna get a fatter ass, I’m not going learn to cook a certain food or get a stronger head game just to secure my place in the black dating world. Doing that will give me rash.
Why are black women always the ones that have to work harder to secure love (and mediocre love at that)?
I know I am enough
I think this part of the book was good for me because it confirmed where I am at in my love journey. For someone who is going through a struggle of “why don’t they love me, why don’t they pick me?” it is a great section.
We saw Samira on Love Island recently ask these same questions and my heart broke for her. She was forced to compare herself to love standards in a white space. I felt this was very unfair and I wanted her to know she’s beyond what whiteness dictates love is. And even when it’s not a white space, the Samira’s of the world have to constantly ask why doesn’t he want me. Why am I not good enough.
That is why I do not give a fuck. I am in a new relationship but before this started, I was single for five years. Five freaking years ya’ll. I caught myself asking why am I not wanted and I bitch slapped my soul.
I am wanted. I am enough. My blackness in a relationship is enough, my afro, my love of my culture, my social awkwardness is enough.
So let me just put it out there – I am enjoying this partnership but if I wake up and realize this is not for me, I will walk out of this knowing who I am is enough. I have found peace with being single and if I have to go back to that, I am enough.
I feel if you’re asking, why haven’t I found… this is a chapter that will help you realize it’s okay that you haven’t found it.
I wanted to touch on this because, if you’ve read my blog you might know I’m fighting fibroids. I shared my journey so far and shared just how difficult this last year was. While reading this section all I could do was shake my head at myself. According to SIYL, black women are less likely to follow up on health issues, go for checkups, take our health seriously.
This book was talking about myself because for months I knew something was wrong with my period and I used every excuse in the book to not see the doctor. Even though there wasn’t any stability in where I lived or the health care system, I still could have seen the doctor. While I’m happy that I am addressing my fibroids journey in the UK, I am still mad at myself for not tackling it sooner.
Even while writing my notes for this part I realized I did it again. I got a text to go for a pap smear the other day and what did I do? I sucked my teeth and tossed my phone to the floor.
The biggest takeaway from this section, ladies take your health seriously. Women, in general, put themselves last but black women are even more prone to do so. I can’t believe I pushed aside something like getting a pap smear after just encouraging women to check their health in my fibroids post.
I’m so used to not putting myself first or not taking it seriously until the last moment and I’ve got to change that thought process.
Buy this book! If you made it through my ramblings, I salute you. The bottom line is, this book is hot. I genuinely believe it’s something every woman should have a chance to enjoy and every young girl should use to shape her future.
I’m looking forward to reading it again and hopefully sharing it with my mother soon. Get your hands on this and I hope you can have a life review too.
Let me know what you think about the book below or what you thought about my review. I can’t wait read your thoughts!
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