A collection of linked essays interweaving commentary on pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny, and racism with Jerkins' own experiences to confront the very real challenges of being a black woman today.
...a beautiful example of possibility, nuance and passion coexisting, even in our heightened political moment ... The focus of these points of tension is the way our society treats black women as inhuman, their bodies consumable or publicly available. Jerkins allows her lens to go deep into contemporary culture, with her essays almost free-associating at times ... there is a brutal honesty Jerkins brings to the experiences of black girls and women that is vital for us to understand as we strive toward equality, toward believing women's voices and experiences, and toward repairing the broken systems that have long defined our country.
Drawing on a rich history of tropes within African-American literature chronicling the black experience in white America, Jerkins’s collection offers a fresh look at the myriad ways black women today continue to be presented with the ‘rough choices,’ albeit in altered form, that faced their ancestors … Jerkins eviscerates the ideology of color-blindness which, rather than being color-neutral, simply assumes that “humans” or 'women' are white by default … Failure—damned if you do, damned if you don’t—is built into the double bind of black womanhood.
The themes in This Will Be My Undoing are the safe, harmless kind expected from so-called diverse writers whose biggest drawing card, according to the industry, is our 'identity' and 'lived experience' ... Often, This Will Be My Undoing feels like a memoir for an older, more naïve internet age. It harks back to the days of the 'first-person industrial complex,' where publications would bait young women to cobble together their best traumas, only for them to be paid in exposure and virality. It’s also reminiscent of the time, which some may argue we still live in, when young black writers were encouraged to turn normal, everyday life events into after-school specials for white liberals desperate to be scolded for their racism, and do nothing about it ... This is what is most frustrating with This Will Be My Undoing: Jerkins is so determined to present black womanhood as a state of pointed suffering that she ignores the myriad of reasons behind the statements she proposes as facts.