You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience

Random. May 2021. 256p. ed. by Tarana Burke & Brené Brown. ISBN 9780593243626. $27. SOC SCI
With this groundbreaking anthology, Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, and Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection), bring together several Black writers to discuss forms of shame that Black people endure on a regular basis and the resilience they’re forced to build in response. After a dialogue between Burke and Brown on whiteness and privilege, the editors write that this is a book specifically about Black people, and they succeed in showing the vast scope of Black experiences. Highlights include essays by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts on shame narratives embedded within the Black church, and Laverne Cox on working through her internalized transphobia. In a powerful essay, Yolo Akili Robinson reminds readers that we are often taught, through a lens of white supremacy, to be ashamed of being Black. What stands out in this book is its argument that we don’t choose to take on shame or resilience; rather, Burke writes, these are conditions that Black people are often subjected to, especially where disability and sexuality intersect with race.
VERDICT Within these pages, Black readers in general, and Black women in particular, will find at least one essay they can relate to, or that offers validation for their lived experience. An essential read.
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