SOCIAL SCIENCES

This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope

Harper Perennial. Jun. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780062890597. pap. $16.99. SOC SCI
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Poet and educator Lawson (creative writing, Amherst Coll.; I Think I’m Ready To See Frank Ocean) makes her nonfiction debut with this collection of essays on feminism and womanhood. Lawson raises up the many ways that Black girls and women contribute to culture, though their contributions are often erased or appropriated, while also emphasizing that exceptionalism isn’t required; regular people have as much value as do exceptional ones. Lawson’s writings cover a broad range of topics, from her experiences in a prize-winning but drama-plagued high school theater troupe to the difficulties AI has reading dark skin, Diana Ross’s confidence and persistence, Tinder dating while Black, the problems with Black Girl Magic and with performative antiracism, the history of hipsters, and much more. Of particular interest are interludes of poems and more experimental approaches to memoir, including a dictionary-style timeline of the author’s experiences with words used to mean “Black,” a micro-play on intraracial dating, and a series of reflections on Black women’s sexuality intertwined with SZA’s CTRL album.
VERDICT An introspective collection, both enlightening and humorous, that is highly recommended for readers interested in creative approaches to memoir and storytelling.

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