AUGUST 15: GOT IT GOIN' ON® EMPOWERMENT BOOK LIST
BLACK GIRL UNLIMITED: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, by Echo Brown
· Summary: Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited fearlessly explores the intersections of poverty, sexual violence, depression, racism, and sexism—all through the arc of a transcendent coming-of-age. Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small, and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor.
Author: Echo Brown is an author, performer, and playwright from Cleveland, Ohio. A Dartmouth alumna and the first female college graduate in her family, she is the author of Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard, which the New York Times praised as “a guidebook of survival and wonder.”
MY TWO CENTS – REVIEW:
I was captivated and mesmerized by this book and would highly recommend it to teenage Black girls and other girls of color. Author, Echo Brown, shared her life story through an amazing web of realism coupled with wizardry – FANTASTIC! Here are some of the points I took away from this well written story:
She did a masterful job of explaining the issues Black girls deal with around their skin color, hair texture and facial features, and how “self-hate” becomes part of their inner voice. She also blends that with the whole challenge that light-skinned teens deal with, not being “Black enough.”
Echo weaves in how low expectations get planted by others who haven’t done well in their own lives and are jealous of others who are given opportunities to move beyond those circumstances. The issue of Black schools in poor neighborhoods versus white schools in more well-to-do neighborhoods became an issue which Echo does a great job in realistically portraying the challenges that Black teenage girls are faced with.
She touches on how generational dysfunction can ruin future dreams but ends with hope for change.
I loved how she focused on the skills that she starts to learn that help her cope with the negative experiences that befall her (rape, addiction, depression, poverty, trauma, etc.). She has an interesting way of representing the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that many low-income teens have dealt with, that lead to that generational “curse” that gets passed down, and how individuals start to rationalize the madness – the dark veil.
Sharing about how individuals cope after experiencing traumatic events (such as rape) – completely shutting down and finding dysfunctional ways to deal.
HOPE – even when this does happen, one must find at least one purpose to anchor themselves to, or one story that will drive your live forward.
She introduces the age-old issue of Black “self-hate” and the need for some Blacks to not be “just Black” but claim they are mixed with Native American or some other ethnicity because being “just Black” isn’t enough nor is it seen as positive.
It was very enlightening to hear Echo talk about the affect rape has on women (especially Black women at the hands of Black men) and that Black men don’t understand the gravity of that traumatic violent act.
I LOVE how the end of the book introduces a religious Black male figure who restores her faith in men by letting the Black women know that they are the heart of Black men – Black men need to acknowledge Black women and do better.
Her telling of her life moving between her impoverished neighborhood and well-to-do neighborhood and the reactions of people from both communities was quite interesting and real.
By the time you get to the end, you feel hope, forgiveness, and the importance of using the resources and tools that are put in your path.
A MUST READ!!!