Black women have never been more visible or more publicly celebrated than they are now. But for every new milestone, every magazine cover, every box office record smashed, every new face elected to public office, the reality of everyday life for black women remains a complex, conflicted, contradiction-laden experience.
An American journalist who has been living and working in London for a decade, Kenya Hunt has made a career of distilling moments, movements, and cultural moods into words. Her work takes the difficult and the indefinable and makes it accessible; it is razor sharp cultural observation threaded through evocative and relatable stories.
Girl Gurl Grrrl both illuminates our current cultural moment and transcends it. Hunt captures the zeitgeist while also creating a timeless celebration of womanhood, of blackness, and the possibilities they both contain. She blends the popular and the personal, the frivolous and the momentous in a collection that truly reflects what it is to be living and thriving as a black woman today.
Girl is a collection of 20 essays commemorating what it’s like to be a black woman in the 21st century. Fifteen are by Kenya Hunt and the rest are by other authors. These essays range from discussing what it’s like to raise a black son to reflections on Aretha Franklin’s 8-hour funeral. Though a lot of the subject matter is heavy, I enjoyed this and found it a quick read. Given that Hunt and many of her friends work in the fashion world, it was especially fun to see a bit of behind-the-scenes there, even though it’s not always pretty (metaphorically speaking).
Hunt’s essays are especially memoir-like. They’re somewhat in chronological order, and it was interesting to connect her childhood experiences with her eventual move to London. Hunt’s struggle to love her body especially struck me. That is a struggle that I’ve been through, that I think most women go through, and there are even more layers to figuring that out when you’re black.
The fact that being black means there are extra layers to any issue is a recurring theme throughout the book. Hunt and the other essayists talk about their experiences with a hopeful frankness, being honest about the negatives but remaining optimistic. Their experiences and outlook are things a lot of readers will be able to identify with (and frankly, that more white women need to acknowledge).
Hunt ultimately writes to and for the black woman. I’m not in that demographic, so to be honest this is probably not a book I’ll return to. But I know how important it is to feel seen and celebrated, and think Hunt does a fantastic job of “seeing” and celebrating black women. I wish I had requested a hard copy so I could donate it to the library or used book store for others to enjoy. If you’re into memoirs, essays, or books featuring real-life black girl magic, this is a good choice.
This ARC was provided to me for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.