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

Updated: Jan 30, 2020


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

AUTHOR: Morgan Jerkins

PUBLISHER: Harper Perennial

PUBLISHED DATE: January 30, 2018 ISBN: 9780062799395

PAGES: 272

Welp...I now know more about Morgan Jerkin's vagina than I do my own...

This was a brave exploration into this young black woman's complexities and contradictions within herself. Marketed to speak for millennial black women, I think it may speak to some, but largely is exclusionary. This book will serve as my reference point for how implicit bias and anti-blackness manifests itself in intellectual black folks of privilege. 

Jerkins does raise issues that are critical in every other book about race that brunch and ivy blacks write about...hair, grappling with not fitting in with non-assimilating black people but not feeling good enough to feel fully included with upper class white people, and the continual sifting of oneself under the ever oppressive gaze of whiteness. She brilliantly articulates her strong desire in her youth to be a blonde cheerleader, being bullied by unapologetic black girls for being "smart" and wearing argyle socks, and draws anecdotes from history to explain how black women are seen as beasts in society. She explores her virginal desires for sex with black men, while fearing  them live on the streets. Jerkins writes with great nuance about her strong desire to be white and her resentment of not being able to fully occupy the supremacy of whiteness. 

Jerkin writes with extreme bravery...detailing her issues with her labia, subsequent labiaplasty, and provides a brief history of  labia stretching in Africa.....

For so many instances in the book, I just cringed in pain for her.... For her, black Barbies and dolls don't have value because white girls don't play with black Barbies and dolls.... For her, whiteness and normal are fluid and interchangeable...For her blonde white women are so fetishized, she can only get off when watching them gang banged in porn.....yes y'all she went there!

I have been reading young adult novels by black authors for the better part of 2017 that allude to success, intelligence, safety and beauty being rigidly white, and encourages black protagonists to pursue white friends and intellectual spaces while depicting black people and communities as negative and to be avoided at all costs. This book doesn't use allegory or symbolism...it just puts it right out there. This is how a lot of black people who are striving for success feel, and we need to talk about it.  We need to talk about how this affects...and has affected...the black community. 

There were parts of her book that I loved. I loved how she analyzed the book controversy surrounding A Birthday Cake for George. She offers a counter observation to many of the critics who ultimately had the book pulled from shelves. Jerkins asks...is it too implausable to believe that the slaves smiled or laughed? Her defense of an intellectual...(forgive my memory, I listened to the audio, and my hands weren't free to take notes) who wrote a criticism of the popular hashtag #BlackGirlMagic, who then later revealed herself to be struggling with multiple sclerosis. Jerkins admits to being initially critical of the intellectual's stance, but after sitting with it has seen some merits in the rejected argument. Is #BIackGirlMagic exclusionary and does it support beliefs that as black women we have to be the best of the best in order to be valid? 

See what I mean? Brave. 

My emotions are mixed regarding her le