From poet Shayla Lawson, director of creative writing at Amherst College, comes a collection of personal essays on the richness and resilience of black girl culture. In a narrative that is part memoir and part social history lesson, the author blends her own story with black women’s broader cultural histories.
Shayla Lawson, the director of creative writing at Amherst College and author of three poetry collections, seeks to look beyond the notion that Black girls are magic. This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope not only spotlights the nuances of Black womanhood but also rejects the claim that their power is rooted in an inherently superhuman or supernatural disposition ... Whether she’s discussing the politics of Twitter popularity, the pitfalls of interracial dating, the ever-shifting cultural definition of 'black' or the reality of gentrification, Lawson is a master of her craft. Her keen poetic sensibilities sharpen topics that may seem amorphous or expansive. She doesn’t present herself as the representative of all Black girls, but she seamlessly blends deeply personal memories with overarching moments in history and pop culture. The result is a sense of familiarity between the writer and the Black women who pick up this book ... Lawson’s voice can be smooth like honey or cut to the quick. This essay collection is a necessary study of self-enlightenment and the unique power of Black girls: We contain multitudes.
Poet Lawson takes a deep dive into the fabrication of Black womanhood in her heartfelt debut collection of essays ... Lawson seamlessly uses cultural colloquialisms meant to suppress women and gives them new meaning ... writing is drenched in wit and humor. Lawson’s skill for storytelling gleams during heavier topics such as colorism and passive-aggressive racism in the workplace ... It is Lawson’s love letter to herself and every other Black woman who may have felt invisible or misunderstood.
A memoir in essays serves as a bold and deeply personal celebration of black women’s lives and culture ... With smart, infectious prose that often reads like poetry, Lawson illuminates the racism that renders so many black women and their accomplishments invisible ... Lawson’s essays—some traditional, some experimental in form—deftly challenge the notion of '#BlackGirlMagic' as an extension of the stereotype of black women as exotic beasts of burden unworthy of protection, as body parts and hairstyles to be appropriated. The author honors black women in their fullness ... A hilarious, heartbreaking, and endlessly entertaining homage to black women’s resilience and excellence.