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Book of the week: This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female and Feminist in (White) America

Book Title:

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female and Feminist in (White) America

Author: Morgan Jerkins

Published: 2018

Language: English

Pages: 272

Author of summary and review: Sabrina Mahar

Rating: 4.5

Genre: Biography, Autobiography


This Will Be My Undoing is an autobiography book of Morgan Jerkins. It was published in 2018 and was among the New York’s Best Selling books of 2018. She is a graduate of Princeton University. This book has 10 chapters.

She has delivered this book in an engaging and reflective tone. She has shared her journey from childhood to adulthood. What and how much racism she had faced. She has also shared her dating and relationship stories in which how she was rejected. This book is for all the women, whether white or of color. It gives an impression and thought of how much racism and segregation black women face during their whole life. How much they struggle to adapt and be a part of normal white society. But still, they face racism.

Apart from sharing her own life stories, you may find advice and empowerment for Black women. These suggestions and guidance are not bound to black women only. They are helpful and motivating for women of all color. She has nicely portrayed the experience of being Black women in America. She has depicted her undergraduate years at Princeton with deep affection by sharing the encounters that molded her perspective as an author.

She has also shared her adulthood difficulties when she moved to New York. From her insecurities to her accomplishments, she has shared everything. It has also excellent learning guidance that being born Black is powerful.

From the slavery of earlier centuries to objectifying and treated as sexual and entertainment objects, she has also shared history and American politics.

She has eloquently written her autobiography by giving an insight into her life experiencing racism because of being a Black woman in a white segregationist and patriarchal country. It is a well-written, engaging, and valuable essay collection.

Main points of the book:

1- Being black is powerful.
2- You deserve to be loved beyond measure.
3- Accept your uniqueness.
4- Blacks are no less than anyone.
5- American’s age-old discrimination and prejudice to Blacks are continuing in today’s society.


Morgan jerkins have started the book by sharing her desire that she wanted to be the cheerleader. She shares how she faced racism during the auditioning of the cheerleader’s team. She and other black girls did not make it. How that incident developed an awareness of race within her.
She tried to assimilate into white culture by wearing jewelry and clothes that were the symbols of whiteness.

She has described her unpleasant encounters and bullying in school when she moves to Williamstown. Her school mate bullied her and been racist and put violence to her. She has thanked her for how she has become more assertive because of her friend’s behavior.

She has shed light on how growing up a black woman is different. She writes that she has never participated in face cut-outs because these cut-outs were always on the white bodies, Yet another racism in the land of make-believe.

She has shared in detail how most of the Black mothers plait their daughter’s hair to grow quicker, and then perm them. There are a detailed knowledge and understanding shared by her regarding the Black women’s hair of their hairstyling and perming to see the actual length. She tells the white classmates of her age were seemed to be more invested in the latest lip gloss colors than in their hair. Whereas, the black female classmates talked about whose hair might be fake, whose hair might be real. She has shared her painful experience of perming her hair in the salon. How much her skin was burned, and it had caused pain in the scalp. She soothed herself by imagining her self pretty when the session will complete. Further, she explains how the African-American perm is made and how harmful it is for the scalp and health.

Black women are constantly aware of how much their appearances are examined. They painstakingly put themselves through the beauty rituals so that they could fit in the white women society and world. She shares some history by saying that the slaves were not encouraged to invest in hair care. They had no oil, comb, herbal ointments to treat their hair. So they applied Cornmeal and Kerosene for scalp cleaners, Coffee as a natural dye, and Butter to condition the hair.

The black women are not afforded ownership over their own identities, bodies, the color of their skin, and the texture of their hair.

In the late nineteenth century, white women wore bustles to make their buttocks look bigger, whereas the same big buttocks of black women are seemed and considered as disgusting. She has told that white women are not pressurized to look like anyone else but themselves. If they adopt a fashion sense or try to darken their skin color then that is considered acceptable and original. But, it is opposite for black women.

One can never experience how it is to feel and be like a Black woman. Their bodies are always vulnerable. Black women have not just to be good but they have to be better to meet the white female standards. She writes how she thought she will seem desirable to a man if she spoke less and be silent. She shares her all relationships with how they didn’t commit to her, and she felt rejected.

Even though she excelled academically and was successful professionally, but she did not achieve the relationship success she desired. Also, being too successful came in her way of dating a guy.

She has shared her harmonious relationship with her Stepfather, who was later diagnosed with dementia. She has also shared her failures and her achievements. When and how she was accepted in the Ivy league college.

Being a drug addict and alcoholic is okay and chic for White women. But on the other hand, if a Black woman takes drugs, and drinks alcohol, then they are treated differently and harshly.

She has mentioned about her trips to Russia and Japan. She had adored the Japanese people. She and her mother had not felt any racism during the tour of Japan. The people of Japan were more hospitable towards Black than Americans.

Black women are special. She wishes to see more Black women-centered stories and movies to be written and directed by black women around the world.


It is a well-written, engaging, and valuable essay collection. As morgan jerkins write in her book that, This book is not about all women, but it is meant for all women, and men, and those who do not adhere to the gender binary. It is a good read for the people of every color to get to know and understand how much racism they have faced or are facing till today. Her essays offer a deep, thorough, and careful analysis of American culture, society, and history.

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