kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine

Availability: Ready to download

An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD from Yale, of marrying a white man from the North, of adopting two babies from Ethiopia, of teaching at a white college and living in America's New England today. "I am black--and brown, too," writes Emily Bernard. "Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell." And the storytelling, and the mystery of Bernard's storytelling, of getting to the truth, begins with a stabbing in a New England college town. Bernard writes how, when she was a graduate student at Yale, she walked into a coffee shop and, along with six other people, was randomly attacked by a stranger with a knife ("I remember making the decision not to let the oddness of this stranger bother me"). "I was not stabbed because I was black," she writes (the attacker was white), "but I have always viewed the violence I survived as a metaphor for the violent encounter that has generally characterized American race relations. There was no connection between us, yet we were suddenly and irreparably bound by a knife, an attachment that cost us both: him, his freedom; me, my wholeness." Bernard explores how that bizarre act of violence set her free and unleashed the storyteller in her ("The equation of writing and regeneration is fundamental to black American experience"). She writes in Black Is the Body how each of the essays goes beyond a narrative of black innocence and white guilt, how each is anchored in a mystery, and how each sets out to discover a new way of telling the truth as the author has lived it. "Blackness is an art, not a science. It is a paradox: intangible and visceral; a situation and a story. It is the thread that connects these essays, but its significance as an experience emerges randomly, unpredictably . . . Race is the story of my life, and therefore black is the body of this book." And what most interests Bernard is looking at "blackness at its borders, where it meets whiteness in fear and hope, in anguish and love."


Compare
kode adsense disini

An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race--in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way--in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD from Yale, of marrying a white man from the North, of adopting two babies from Ethiopia, of teaching at a white college and living in America's New England today. "I am black--and brown, too," writes Emily Bernard. "Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell." And the storytelling, and the mystery of Bernard's storytelling, of getting to the truth, begins with a stabbing in a New England college town. Bernard writes how, when she was a graduate student at Yale, she walked into a coffee shop and, along with six other people, was randomly attacked by a stranger with a knife ("I remember making the decision not to let the oddness of this stranger bother me"). "I was not stabbed because I was black," she writes (the attacker was white), "but I have always viewed the violence I survived as a metaphor for the violent encounter that has generally characterized American race relations. There was no connection between us, yet we were suddenly and irreparably bound by a knife, an attachment that cost us both: him, his freedom; me, my wholeness." Bernard explores how that bizarre act of violence set her free and unleashed the storyteller in her ("The equation of writing and regeneration is fundamental to black American experience"). She writes in Black Is the Body how each of the essays goes beyond a narrative of black innocence and white guilt, how each is anchored in a mystery, and how each sets out to discover a new way of telling the truth as the author has lived it. "Blackness is an art, not a science. It is a paradox: intangible and visceral; a situation and a story. It is the thread that connects these essays, but its significance as an experience emerges randomly, unpredictably . . . Race is the story of my life, and therefore black is the body of this book." And what most interests Bernard is looking at "blackness at its borders, where it meets whiteness in fear and hope, in anguish and love."

30 review for Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine

  1. 4 out of 5

    K

    Wow *cracks knuckles* this book y'all. The introduction and first essay is amazing. So amazing that I had to put the book down and grasp for air. After that, it seemed as though the book went downhill for me, for several reasons. I have a lot in common with the author of this book. I grew up in the south and moved to the North. My mother's family resides on the same historical land that they have since the end of (and during) slavery. I entered white Academia, and maintain a lot of close friends Wow *cracks knuckles* this book y'all. The introduction and first essay is amazing. So amazing that I had to put the book down and grasp for air. After that, it seemed as though the book went downhill for me, for several reasons. I have a lot in common with the author of this book. I grew up in the south and moved to the North. My mother's family resides on the same historical land that they have since the end of (and during) slavery. I entered white Academia, and maintain a lot of close friendships with white people. However, I know all of these things didn't just happen in a vacuum. My proximity to whiteness doesn't make me feel shame, but it also doesn't make me feel immense pride. I try to move through this with self awareness, self awareness that I feel the author lacked as she made the reader hear about how wonderful her husband was, or how cute her daughters are. Which is all good and well, but I wanted to read about what it meant to have a white husband beyond "he's nice to me, we talk about race" and I wanted to hear about how she was navigating having Ethiopian daughters and deciding to raise them in Vermont, and what that could mean for their self confidence and self worth. It seemed like any pushback the author received from other Black people about anything at all was always briefly touched on, in a surface level way. I found a lot of the essays to just be rather boring. It was apparent that the author does not have many Black friends but also does not have many Black radical friends, that engage in community organizing. She invited cops to her class, and seemed shocked that someone who works in social justice would get death threats. There were way too many James Baldwin quotes. As you can see, this book wasn't for me and that's simply okay. But I think it does a disservice to future readers if I'm not honest here: this book feels as though it is written for white people. White people who have not formed intimate relationships with radical Black people, white people that only like Black people in theory. If you are a Black person looking for a book that reminds you of home, you may be bored by the stories in this book because they're too similar to your own AND the author doesn't dig deeper in a meaningful way for you to want to endure reading. I gave this book two stars because the beginning showed me exactly what Emily Bernard could have been capable of if her entire book wasn't dedicated to centering whiteness.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jan Rice

    This book is a jumble of ideas and stories. The author is a seeker. But sometimes her ideas exist right next to each other without touching, that is, without the author's connecting them. For example, the very first story is on the episode of mass violence that the author says gave her her voice (allowed her to begin writing): she was among the victims in a 2001 stabbing near Yale in a New Haven coffee bar where she had been one of the patrons. Although she was the only black customer, her color This book is a jumble of ideas and stories. The author is a seeker. But sometimes her ideas exist right next to each other without touching, that is, without the author's connecting them. For example, the very first story is on the episode of mass violence that the author says gave her her voice (allowed her to begin writing): she was among the victims in a 2001 stabbing near Yale in a New Haven coffee bar where she had been one of the patrons. Although she was the only black customer, her color was incidental to her stabbing, as the young white male perpetrator was apparently trying to commit suicide by cop and the author-to-be just happened to be on the scene. Yet a large chunk of the book has to do with her perceived danger as a black person. The current orthodoxy is that we're living in a white supremacist society, but fundamentalism of any sort can keep us from seeing the full picture, even what is right in front of us. Flipping next to the end of the book and the last essay: the author writes that her hometown, Burlington, Vermont, has an exemplary police chief. She's always talking him up, she says, yet at the same time she's thinking he's "an aberration compared to others in his profession." In contrast to that notion, the following conclusion is derived from data described in Michael Lewis' The Fifth Risk: "(N)ot all cops exhibited the same degree of racial bias. A few cops in one southern city were ten times more likely than others to search a black person they had pulled over." We see here that the orthodox view is that bias is like biblical impurity, like a miasma that has spread over all those of a certain class (policemen), but instead of almost every policeman sharing an "average" attitude, the reality is that some have attitude galore, pushing up the overall average, while others have little to none of the objectionable attitude -- and some may have another attitude altogether. Remember those two cop scenes from the movie Green Book? One about a bad traffic stop and a bad cop -- and one that turns out precisely the opposite! Speaking of traffic stops, Emily Bernard says that, in contrast to what we would expect based on the good police chief of Burlington, African Americans in Vermont are 85 percent more likely to be stopped than white people. Looking at the other part of that quote from The Fifth Risk, we see that Michael Lewis has written, "A young guy in the White House pulled up stop-and-search rates from another pile of policing data. He discovered that a black person in a car was no more likely to be pulled over by the police than a white person. The difference was what happened next. 'If you’re black, you’re way more likely to get searched'...." Why is it so different in Vermont? Because it's such a "white" state? Or some difference in the data or misunderstanding of the numbers? We can't say without access to the data itself, but, still, the difference is worth noting, just in case confirmation bias has brought about an error. Throughout the book, the author holds out parts of her identity besides blackness that have been subjected to social stress, for example, her infertility and the fact she's never conceived, which led her and her husband to become adoptive parents. Though wounds experienced on other accounts than race aren't necessarily woven into an equally potent story, they are present in this book as part of the memoir. Barrenness, after all, is not an insignificant matter; it's biblical! The author writes of insufficient black faces in New England -- a simple dearth of blackness. And yet she also writes that she has "encountered divides of class, region, and temperament that proved as difficult to overcome as any racial barrier." In college she had classes with people who looked like her but weren't like her because of their background of prep schools, exclusive clubs, and vacations in the Berkshires. At home, too, her bookishness and academic ambition could set her apart. Nevertheless, a certain baseline of black faces represents comfort, and home is home -- both back in Mississippi and in the home she's built in Vermont -- where her Italian husband is no longer white but family. The author writes that the Trinidadian side of her family relate differently to race than she and other American blacks do. They are not trapped in the "ideological straitjacket" of black and white as are American blacks. Judging from the book, the author knows non-American blacks (to borrow from Americanah) see something different, but she's stuck with a binary black and white, the various interwoven categories to which she occasionally draws attention notwithstanding. It's as though she sees no gradations of whiteness and, ironically, all whites look alike to her. That's the chrysalis from which she has yet to emerge. It's so tempting to stay tucked inside, accepting the approved narrative and in consequence always having someone and something outside oneself to blame. Now here's a story of a hang-up: a white immigrant a hundred years ago sees a black person and can't believe his skin color is real. So, if it's not, it might rub off with a handshake. Fast-forward to the present, when the author's white friend has her black godson staying with her in her house. The white friend proceeds to tell the author, with apparent dismay and embarrassment, that the godson left a dark ring in the tub. The author assumes her friend is partaking of the fantasy that the godson's skin color has rubbed off and that's what she's embarrassed over. She assumes all white people at some level share that fantasy. No; I just can't believe that, even despite that "in the South, white people want you close but not high," while in the North, you can get as high as you want but they don't want you close" -- even though the white friend may never have been close to a black person before. People see TV, they see movies, they read. In the face of all that, the illusion of blackness rubbing off like charcoal cannot be maintained. the greenhorn white immigrant of another era, yes, but not the 21st century friend. What the white friend is probably embarrassed over is the godson's not knowing better than to leave the ring in the tub (something my mother gave me a hard time over because she did not appreciate my ring). Maybe the next time the author -- or the friend -- will get over her embarrassment sufficiently to check out her assumption. That kind "getting the other person wrong" is very common. In the book Educated, the radically under-educated Tara Westover when thrown into a college history class, sees other students asking questions so ventures to ask one herself, about a word she's never before heard. The word is "Holocaust," and to the professor and the other students, she's a Holocaust denier or right-wing extremist making a terrible joke. Trevor Noah, in the wonderful Born a Crime, recounts an episode of double assumptions: The star dancer of his band was a boy named Hitler, made possible by the fact that large chunks of South African people at that time were not conversant with European history yet simultaneously emulated European names, among which they failed to distinguish. So when his group performs for a Jewish audience, and he's shouting, "Go, Hitler, go!" the audience freaks out, and their reaction in turn freaks out the band. Trevor thinks the audience is cracking down on his group for the sexuality of the performance, and, well, we know (although Trevor didn't) what the audience thinks. Getting over those roadblocks posed by assumptions can only be done over time, since it's hard to check out those assumptions at the same moment one is feeling shamed or discomfited over what you think the other guy is thinking. The author is right that long-term contact is the way, that is, long-term contact characterized by mutual respect and caring. In that context people could stop being other. They are themselves. They are family. By the way, the reason white people in the South wanted black people close is that they wanted their labor. The labor was of a certain kind and for a certain price, which is the reason white people in the South didn't want black people to rise; they had to "stay in their place." In the North, white people didn't want -- or need? -- black people's labor in the same way. The author confirmed something I'd suspected: that when black check-out clerks or salesladies were sullen rather than smiling, it was unfinished business from the past, when they'd had to grovel and had been made to smile. Or at least I thought she confirmed it by recounting an instance in which she'd talked down to a white clerk because of her own psychological leftovers from the Jim Crow era. By the way, that anti-groveling has mostly run its course by now. I don't see it anymore; now salesclerks of all sorts are equally friendly. Here's a last something from the book to think about: Emily Bernard is convinced she's protected her children by giving them a white father. Is there truth in that? I used to be secretly glad of having a non-Jewish-sounding last name, which I got by marrying a man of northern European descent and duly passed along to our children. But it only works if I don't do anything that identifies me as a Jew or hang around with other Jews in Jewish places. I came across a review of this book somewhere that described the author as open and honest and different -- some such terms -- and not polemical. That's what made me want to read it. I was lucky to get it from the library without a wait, maybe one of its first readers. I didn't love it as much as I expected. Still, it's given me a lot to think about. Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca H.

    This essay collection has pieces on Bernard's experiences as a black woman in Vermont, on her family history in Alabama and Nashville, on her experiences teaching African American literature, and on adopting twin girls from Ethiopia. It's a strong collection, with a lot of interesting ideas and probing explorations of how we talk and think about race. Some of the best pieces are on how her students respond to issues of race in the classroom, and I loved the way Bernard dwells on questions rather This essay collection has pieces on Bernard's experiences as a black woman in Vermont, on her family history in Alabama and Nashville, on her experiences teaching African American literature, and on adopting twin girls from Ethiopia. It's a strong collection, with a lot of interesting ideas and probing explorations of how we talk and think about race. Some of the best pieces are on how her students respond to issues of race in the classroom, and I loved the way Bernard dwells on questions rather than answers and digs deeply into her own ambivalences. She's a thoughtful writer, and this is a valuable collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    The earlier essays were good. I could really relate to her thinking and experiences. However as the book went on they felt repetitive. I think overall it could’ve been less. Also worth saying. This is a book filled with intimate small essays not essays on giant trauma. It’s not about the pain of blackness. It’s about Bernard’s experiences as a black woman.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Nociti

    Profound, compelling, relatable, and full of purpose. A new and important addition to the conversation of race and privilege going on in America right now. Ms. Bernard shares the story of her stabbing, her black physical body and also her black cultural body experience. Her willingness to share her vulnerability is apparent and I appreciated it very much. I was struck with a visceral reaction when she confessed to her internal struggles and beliefs about the feelings white people (including her Profound, compelling, relatable, and full of purpose. A new and important addition to the conversation of race and privilege going on in America right now. Ms. Bernard shares the story of her stabbing, her black physical body and also her black cultural body experience. Her willingness to share her vulnerability is apparent and I appreciated it very much. I was struck with a visceral reaction when she confessed to her internal struggles and beliefs about the feelings white people (including her husband) harbor for her. A book that made me rethink my racial awareness and how out of touch I really am. Recommend to all.

  6. 4 out of 5

    April

    I waited to rate this book as I wanted to think about it more and I finally decided on 4 stars. I really enjoyed the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keertana

    Rating: 3.5 Stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    A definite contender for my personal best books of 2019 list! This book is a gift. I savored every essay.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Awkward Book Nook (Stephanie)

    Teen fantasy is my staple, so this is definitely a change of pace. Also, this review is coming from a white woman who lives in the South, in a place that is 76% white, and racial tension and prejudices are fairly common. This book is written so well and felt so genuine. After the first story (which blew my mind), the essays taper off in pace. But I was already captivated by her words. I loved the contrasts and comparisons to her life in the south versus her life in Vermont. You can tell she loves Teen fantasy is my staple, so this is definitely a change of pace. Also, this review is coming from a white woman who lives in the South, in a place that is 76% white, and racial tension and prejudices are fairly common. This book is written so well and felt so genuine. After the first story (which blew my mind), the essays taper off in pace. But I was already captivated by her words. I loved the contrasts and comparisons to her life in the south versus her life in Vermont. You can tell she loves and adores her family. I wish I had more insight to her view on her marriage or how other people perceive it, as it is biracial. But maybe there was no need. Either way, I really enjoyed this book, and I loved how open she was with her own thoughts and perspective. She was easy to connect with though the reader may have a very different background.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lacey

    Meh. Obviously, this book wasn't written for me. It was written for a non-black audience. The majority of the essays feature the author describing mundane interactions between her husband/daughters/family friends and trying to find some racial significance in them. Maybe it was meant to be intimate and show what it is like to live as a black person in a white space; instead, these moments felt shallow and forced. Worse, in each of these moments, the author frequently came off as a snide instigat Meh. Obviously, this book wasn't written for me. It was written for a non-black audience. The majority of the essays feature the author describing mundane interactions between her husband/daughters/family friends and trying to find some racial significance in them. Maybe it was meant to be intimate and show what it is like to live as a black person in a white space; instead, these moments felt shallow and forced. Worse, in each of these moments, the author frequently came off as a snide instigator of conflict between her students and white friends. I get the need to make people uncomfortable to educate them, but the examples she brought up always felt poorly done. Also, for someone who teaches African American literature at the university-level, the author seems to have a limited repertoire of literary references. She makes way too many references to James Baldwin or Their Eyes Were Watching God, with rare mentions of anything else. I would hope to learn of more, underrated black authors and titles when reading a black literature professor's memoir. I can't recommend. It feels too messy and fails to say anything insightful about race.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie Rand

    This has been my favorite book so far this year. Bernard's essays gave me so much to think about, especially about the topic of race, in an honest, non-judgmental way. As an adoptive mother, I also loved reading about her adoption of twins from Ethiopia. Bernard's essays are personal but not self-pitying; even the first in which she describes being stabbed for no reason in a coffee shop in New Haven. She talks about being one of the few black people in Burlington Vermont where she teaches Africa This has been my favorite book so far this year. Bernard's essays gave me so much to think about, especially about the topic of race, in an honest, non-judgmental way. As an adoptive mother, I also loved reading about her adoption of twins from Ethiopia. Bernard's essays are personal but not self-pitying; even the first in which she describes being stabbed for no reason in a coffee shop in New Haven. She talks about being one of the few black people in Burlington Vermont where she teaches African-American studies; of her reaction when one of her white friends admits that Emily is her only black friend. She shares what it is like to be married to a white man, and some of her experiences with motherhood. As the sub-title suggests, she also includes stories from her mother's and grandmother's time as well and links their experiences to hers. I loved loved loved this book and wish I could hang out with Bernard over a glass of wine and just talk. You might feel the same way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I found the tone of this book to be somewhat detached, but also I read so much of fear in these essays. I did not connect with the narration, but I wish I had. With the subtitle, I had expected to see more about family experiences throughout generations, but I didn't get a lot of that either. This was kind of a letdown for me because I really thought I would love the process of reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie Phillips

    I LOVED this book with my whole heart! Emily Bernard's essays are rich and deep and timely and beautiful. The writing is gorgeous, the sentiments are layered and complex, every word rings true. The last essay in the book, "People Like Me" should be required reading for all Vermonters. I spoke with a 9th grader at Teen Lit Mob yesterday who suggested this book as one teachers ought to be teaching and I completely agree! Highly highly recommend!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Just read this in one sitting. Insightful and beautifully written essays.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Esther Gulli

    Spectacular! An amazing tapestry of essays woven together with grace and elegance. Bernard’s book should be required reading for all first year college students. Her reflections on race and otherness are deep and thought provoking. But what I found most moving were her essays on family - her childhood growing up in Nashville and family pilgrimages to Mississippi - the life she’s created in her new home in Vermont with her Italian husband and adopted children from Ethiopia. It’s just an extraordi Spectacular! An amazing tapestry of essays woven together with grace and elegance. Bernard’s book should be required reading for all first year college students. Her reflections on race and otherness are deep and thought provoking. But what I found most moving were her essays on family - her childhood growing up in Nashville and family pilgrimages to Mississippi - the life she’s created in her new home in Vermont with her Italian husband and adopted children from Ethiopia. It’s just an extraordinary body of work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Violeta

    Bernard’s essays are thoughtful and complex. Her writing on race, motherhood, place, and the various intersections of those across generations, will stay with me long after reading this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Porter

    Emily Bernard, what a story teller! Loved this book. I laughed, cried, reflected, and learned. Can’t wait to read it again. Emily’s words are magic. Some parts I just want to read over and over again because the writing is so beautiful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    SharonMO

    I found each essay captivatingly intimate. I especially love how Emily expresses her deliberations and honest interpretations of life and humanity. Black Is The Body is a fluid, lovely, meaningful read. If you value motherhood, family, friendship, culture and human connections, you will love this book!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    A beautiful essay collection about the complexities of living in a black female body in America. Lyrical and literary. Personal and communal.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leo Arnold

    Interesting perspective on race relations. Author began writing when hospitalized after being stabbed by a white man.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Leena Dbouk

    I'm usually not a memoir fan but from page one I found Emily Bernards writing compelling, honest and insightful. She opened my eyes to things like adoptive motherhood and various challenges we face when talking about race in America. I only wish she had challenged non black Americans more on their use of language and perspective. Regardless, I really felt this was a fantastic introduction to intersectionality.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    Maybe "essays" memoirs just don't work for me? Shrug. The entire book felt messy and disorganized. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, particularly not someone who was looking for an insightful memoir on race/what it is like to be black in America (like I was). After reading I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness I wanted more (and this was not it). The essays are Bernard describing encounters/interactions between her (or someone she knows). In nearly every essay I wondered... Maybe "essays" memoirs just don't work for me? Shrug. The entire book felt messy and disorganized. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, particularly not someone who was looking for an insightful memoir on race/what it is like to be black in America (like I was). After reading I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness I wanted more (and this was not it). The essays are Bernard describing encounters/interactions between her (or someone she knows). In nearly every essay I wondered... "why is she telling me this?" I kept waiting for insight or a conclusion to be drawn... a point to be made... I couldn't understand the purpose of most of these essays OR why she even selected those to tell me. I started to wonder if it was ME, but then I came here to read the reviews and found several readers (both white and black) found it shallow and poorly organized or lacking purpose. Admittedly I feel terrible rating this book so poorly because I want to read and support books like this one and learn from them, but this didn't work for me. I welcome other recommendations.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ciera

    I am black—and brown, too: Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell. Perhaps it’s because she’s an academic, but the ways in which Bernard went about discussing race, more so in her personal life than in her essays, or, I suppose, those essays that focused more on her personal life, was strange and a bit...pressing to me. In one essay she talks about writing a friend whose farm her daughters stay at in the summer to remind her that, despite their brown skin, they I am black—and brown, too: Brown is the body I was born into. Black is the body of the stories I tell. Perhaps it’s because she’s an academic, but the ways in which Bernard went about discussing race, more so in her personal life than in her essays, or, I suppose, those essays that focused more on her personal life, was strange and a bit...pressing to me. In one essay she talks about writing a friend whose farm her daughters stay at in the summer to remind her that, despite their brown skin, they need sunscreen. Then she took that moment to explain what it felt like to be black in a white space which, okay, that’s fine. But then she went on to talk about how the woman needed to be always aware of her daughters’ vulnerable brown bodies and it was just...too much. I understood but it felt like a step too far. And that’s what it seemed like in a lot of her anecdotes—like either she was silent when she shouldn’t have been or said too much when it wasn’t necessary, to compensate for having said nothing before. It seems to come from living in Vermont and being married to a white man and so only interacting with white people, so she’s constantly taking the burden onto herself of doing emotional labor to help people understand her place in the world and blackness in the world while still grappling with it herself (which is fine—being so visible in white spaces and always having to take on the burden of representation and exhausting and something that will always be grappled with.) I am of two minds about this, particularly the fact that she was so...open. As a person of color, there are inherent things that you know not to talk to white people about, that you talk about only with other black people or POC. There are exceptions, of course—my best friend is white and we talk everything, including race. But there was an odd sort of desperation I felt from Bernard’s writing any discussions with others, some deeper need of hers to constantly talk about race with white people despite also not wanting it to pervade or control her life. This collection of essays, I have realized upon finishing, is not for me, not really. There are some essays that I connected to, that highlighted the need to be around other black bodies after being surrounded by white ones and the nuances of blackness and brownness, but mainly this book was for a white audience. For people who seem to want to understand or to be better allies or just some out of some curiosity. It gives a glimpse inside the black mind while still allowing for a sense of reassurance—black people are not scary, they’re just like you, just with different worries and vulnerabilities! So, I wasn’t a huge fan. But then again, this wasn’t for me, no matter how much it seemed to be at first glance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Bernard has put together a very solid collection of essays that gave me a feeling that I was reading the transcript of her own internal conversation. Black is the Body is what the title suggests: a collection of essays written her life as a black woman, incorporating experiences that have shaped her - past and present. She opens the book with an essay about being stabbed in a random attack by a mentally ill man and goes on to discuss her own struggles with infertility, being married to a white m Bernard has put together a very solid collection of essays that gave me a feeling that I was reading the transcript of her own internal conversation. Black is the Body is what the title suggests: a collection of essays written her life as a black woman, incorporating experiences that have shaped her - past and present. She opens the book with an essay about being stabbed in a random attack by a mentally ill man and goes on to discuss her own struggles with infertility, being married to a white man, adopting two Ethiopian girls (and the dramatic twists and turns that went with it), and maybe most interestingly, her own families complex history with race in the south. I gained a new perspective on identity that I didn't have before, especially since it was from the perspective -past and present - of a black woman from Vermont, which, as even she explains, is a unique, complex thing. Solid read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    While Emily Bernard titled her book Black Is the Body, I did not expect the myriad ways that her words could inhabit my mind - ways in which her words seemed to form an almost physical presence. As a teacher, I have spent a good deal of time reading essays, biographies, articles, and stories about issues of race. Assuredly I have not read them all, not even close. Of those works about race that I *have* read, this novel explored race through a blend of personal essay and poetry that I have never While Emily Bernard titled her book Black Is the Body, I did not expect the myriad ways that her words could inhabit my mind - ways in which her words seemed to form an almost physical presence. As a teacher, I have spent a good deal of time reading essays, biographies, articles, and stories about issues of race. Assuredly I have not read them all, not even close. Of those works about race that I *have* read, this novel explored race through a blend of personal essay and poetry that I have never experienced; the weight of Bernard's words come in part from their honesty, in part from their lyricism, and in part from their incontrovertible connection to what it means to be a person, alive. Through her recollection, readers are exposed to the intellectual might of some of her forebears - most often James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston. The book's title is fitting and thematically important; Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine makes such a tangible impact on the person reading it that one may nearly feel "full" with stories. One might not immediately see the connection between "body", something so apparent and existent, and "story", something ethereal with the possibility of changing (particularly through memory). However, it is this relationship that so keenly preoccupies Bernard's thoughts and storytelling. And so, I quote one of the most vivid and beautiful sections of the text to help capture its essence and and its power: "But the beauty of the condition of blackness is that it is capacious enough to carry both despair and hope, rage and delight, ambivalence and fortitude, which are all as intertwined as my intestines and scar tissue, which seem driven to entangle themselves periodically, and form adhesions that serve as a regular reminder that the scar and the story are eternally connected." You are brilliant, Emily Bernard.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Beautifully written, intelligent and sensitive essays about the intersection of black and white in America and in the author's life. This was really just lovely, and thought-provoking. The author writes about so many things--living as a black woman in Vermont. Growing up in the South. Her mother and grandmother's lives. Her marriage to a white man. Her twin daughters adopted from Ethiopia--each subject treated with great thought and care. This was really a treat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura Partington

    Beautifully and simply written. Challenging and powerful stories. Real. I would read anything and everything by this author.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel León

    Damn, that epilogue. So good.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This is the best 21st century book about race I've heard. I was aware of the invention of whiteness but Emily Bernard says something like I am brown but I'm called black.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I highly recommend this book. The essays within are honest, powerful, and for me provide a perspective that has been missing from most of my reading in the past.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.