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This Will Be My Undoing summary

Morgan Jerkins

Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America

4.1 (20 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins is a collection of personal essays exploring the intersection of race and gender in America. With unflinching honesty, Jerkins shares her experiences of navigating the world as a black woman, shedding light on important issues that often go unspoken.

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    This Will Be My Undoing
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    Morgan Jerkins is a Black woman and a human.

    When Jerkins was a young girl, she wanted to cast aside her Blackness and assimilate into white culture.

    This is a common desire among young Black girls wanting to make it in a white-dominated world. They understand that their Blackness is a threat and that in order to be nonthreatening and succeed in the world, it should be toned down.

    Therefore, during her teenage years, Jerkins didn’t leave her hair in its natural state and wore jewelry and clothes that were status symbols of whiteness – such as items from Gap and Limited Too – and sought to avoid Black classmates who shunned white culture.

    During this time, Jerkins learned when it was advantageous to use her racial heritage and when to adapt to the rules of whiteness. She soon realized that, in most cases, white culture always won because many people don’t see Black culture as a viable option. Why is this so?

    Remarkably, the answer is that some white people see the labels “human” and “Black woman” as mutually exclusive.

    Once, a white man asked Jerkins why she didn’t just define herself as a human instead of as a Black woman – a label that many white people stereotype negatively. Her reply was that she is both; however, the man said that she didn’t assume the role of a Black woman. Why?

    Because Jerkins was well-spoken, went to Princeton and worked in publishing – all qualities that didn’t fit with the man’s perception of a Black woman – the man didn’t see her as a “typical” Black woman. Moreover, Jerkins sometimes adjusts her mannerisms to fall more in line with white culture; she minimizes gestures, avoids sucking her teeth and doesn’t talk as loudly.

    Blackness is denied when Black women don’t conform to the stereotype of “sassy Black woman.” This stereotype reinforces the perception that Black people aren’t as educated or worthy as white people, and if a Black woman doesn’t fit this description, then she isn’t Black but rather white – and thus human. And so, by this logic, it is impossible to be both Black and human.

    Unfortunately, acknowledging a Black person as though she or he were white is still considered a compliment.

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    What is This Will Be My Undoing about?

    This Will Be My Undoing (2018) delves into the author’s experiences as a Black woman living in modern-day America. By examining race, culture and feminism, the book demonstrates why and how Black women have been marginalized and offers suggestions on how this serious situation can be improved.

    This Will Be My Undoing Review

    This Will Be My Undoing (2018) is a thought-provoking memoir that explores the complexities of race, gender, and identity in America. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With raw honesty, it delves into the author's personal experiences, shedding light on the nuances of being a black woman in a predominantly white society.
    • Through compelling storytelling, it challenges conventional narratives and invites readers to critically examine their own assumptions and biases.
    • By addressing issues of intersectionality, the book offers a powerful and necessary perspective on social issues, making it a must-read for those interested in understanding the complexities of race and gender.

    Best quote from This Will Be My Undoing

    Unlike with white girls, our inherent innocence is not assumed.

    —Morgan Jerkins
    example alt text

    Who should read This Will Be My Undoing?

    • People interested in the marginalization of Black women
    • Feminist studies students
    • Those who want to learn about contemporary Black culture in the United States

    About the Author

    Morgan Jerkins is an author and associate editor at Catapult, a publishing house and literary association. She has also contributed to numerous publications, including the New York Times, the New Yorker and Rolling Stone.

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    This Will Be My Undoing FAQs 

    What is the main message of This Will Be My Undoing?

    The main message of This Will Be My Undoing is an exploration of black womanhood and an honest reflection on race, gender, and identity.

    How long does it take to read This Will Be My Undoing?

    The reading time for This Will Be My Undoing varies depending on the reader. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is This Will Be My Undoing a good book? Is it worth reading?

    This Will Be My Undoing is a compelling read that offers a unique and powerful perspective. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of This Will Be My Undoing?

    The author of This Will Be My Undoing is Morgan Jerkins.

    What to read after This Will Be My Undoing?

    If you're wondering what to read next after This Will Be My Undoing, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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