You Are Your Best Thing Book Summary - You Are Your Best Thing Book explained in key points
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You Are Your Best Thing summary

Edited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown

Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience

4.2 (93 ratings)
32 mins
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    You Are Your Best Thing
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    Black experiences of shame, vulnerability, and trauma are inextricably tied to white supremacy.

    In the protests that rocked the United States after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered in 2020, Black activists took to the streets with the aim of fighting white supremacy. But Tarana Burke noticed there was something missing from the conversation. Activists kept trying to make white people less racist. But there was very little discussion about how the trauma of continued racist violence affects Black people. 

    So Burke approached Brené Brown, a longtime friend and expert in trauma. Burke had always found Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability to be inspirational. But, as a Black woman, it was sometimes hard to see herself in it. 

    The key message here is: Black experiences of shame, vulnerability, and trauma are inextricably tied to white supremacy.

    Brown's work reveals how much we have to gain from letting down our defenses and becoming vulnerable and open with each other. It shows how harmful internalized shame can be and argues that everyone is worthy of joy and connection. But it doesn’t explicitly acknowledge that Black people often aren’t allowed to be emotionally vulnerable in society because they experience real threats in daily life. It also doesn’t examine what it’s like for Black people to find self-worth in a society designed to shame and oppress them.

    While Brown’s research had always incorporated many diverse voices, including Latinx and Black respondents, the way she’d presented it was from her own perspective: as a privileged, middle-class white woman. As a result, the anecdotes tend to exclude a big chunk of her readers who don’t have the freedom that she does. 

    So, when Burke proposed collaborating on an edited collection of essays about how Black people experience shame, vulnerability, and trauma, Brown jumped at the chance to make her work more relevant and inclusive. She agreed to join the project on two conditions: Burke would be listed as first author, and Brown’s share of the profits would go toward supporting Black storytellers. 

    The blinks that follow are a sampling of personal stories. Black artists, intellectuals, parents, and activists share how they wrestle with the trauma of systemic racism on a daily basis – and how they create lives full of connection, love, and growth in spite of it. 

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    What is You Are Your Best Thing about?

    You Are Your Best Thing (2021) is an anthology of original essays that explore Black experiences of living, loving, and parenting in America today. It examines concepts like vulnerability and shame, and shows that the key to personal healing lies in confronting white supremacy and the racist systems that make Black people feel unsafe in their communities. 

    Who should read You Are Your Best Thing?

    • Black people looking for tools to heal from trauma
    • Psychology-lovers seeking new perspectives on how the personal and political intersect
    • Those who want to deepen their understanding of the impact of racism in America

    About the Author

    Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement, is an activist who has fought sexual violence and sytemic inequality for the last 25 years. She was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017.

    Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and the author of five #1 New York Times best sellers, including The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.

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