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

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

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 Explain...

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Title:This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America
Author:Morgan Jerkins
Rating:
Edition Language:English

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

  • Roxane

    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

    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

    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 work

    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

    Wow...I think my main question about

    ' debut is similar to many on my timeline—what book were the rest of y'all reading?

    My first introduction to Jerkins was

    , 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

    Wow...I think my main question about

    ' debut is similar to many on my timeline—what book were the rest of y'all reading?

    My first introduction to Jerkins was

    , 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

    , 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

    's debut, but at least

    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

    .) 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.

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