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.
Jerkins's essays present many legitimate issues faced by black women. There are, however, instances in which she presents theories as fact (the Hottentot Venus influencing the 19th-century bustle style in women's dresses, for example) and makes arguable, sweeping generalizations, like 'White women are not pressured to look like anyone else but themselves.' Nevertheless, Jerkins has strong character, and This Will Be My Undoing is likely just the beginning of her influence on the role of black women in the United States. As she is careful to point out, she is just one voice and her story doesn't speak for all black women, but with any luck her one voice will inspire other voices to add to the chorus of change.
...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.
Her writing is personal, inviting, and fearless ... At one point in the book, Jerkins lauds Beyoncé’s Lemonade as art that finally represents black women as entire, complex human beings. One could say the same about this gorgeous and powerful collection.