Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture

St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781250231567. pap. $16.99. SOC SCI
Drawing from pop culture and personal experience, this first book by journalist Blay (creator of the #carefreeblackgirl movement) is a powerful look at how Black women are treated and mistreated—in particular, the way mass culture emulates Black women but also excludes and ignores them. Blay’s knack for film and cultural criticism is on full display as she unpacks the desexualization and fetishization of Black women artists like Lizzo and Cardi B and the difficulty (as a Black consumer of culture) of both rooting for and being disappointed by Black celebrities. Blay also shines when reflecting on her experiences as a Black woman and an immigrant; she heartrendingly recalls navigating life in the wake of sexual assault, living with depression and anxiety, and turning to other Black women to help inform and understand herself. The entire book offers critical insight, but the final chapter is particularly necessary reading, on the commodification of Breonna Taylor’s death. Blay also closely considers the movement she created and whether Black women can truly be free in a society where their existence is precarious.
VERDICT Calling for Black women (in and out of the public eye) to be treated with empathy, Blay’s pivotal work will engage all readers, especially fans of Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism.
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