Imatge de l'autor

Margo Jefferson

Autor/a de Negroland: A Memoir

7+ obres 952 Membres 34 Ressenyes

Sobre l'autor

Margo Jefferson was a theater and book critic for Newsweek and The New York Times. She won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Her writing has appeared in several publications including Vogue, New York magazine, and The New Republic. Her books include On Michael Jackson and Negroland: A Memior. She is mostra'n més a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts. (Bowker Author Biography) mostra'n menys
Crèdit de la imatge: Margo Jefferson at the 2015 Texas Book Festival. By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Obres de Margo Jefferson

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I agree with all of the other reviews that talk about how this book is disjointed, hard to read, and a disappointment.
lemontwist | Hi ha 29 ressenyes més | Sep 4, 2023 |
This book is marketed as a memoir but I'd maybe describe it more as an observed history or the psychological unpacking of one woman's black identity. I loved Jefferson's writing style from the jump. She is so clearly smarter than me, more well read and more cultured than me. I love the flexing. I love that when I give this a closer second read, I'll have a long list of writers and musicians and historical figures to check out. Jefferson is writing about a history that she has a personal vested interest in, she has a point to make and her use of language is so intentional and pointed. When she simply described a historical event as "white people instigated riots," I knew I'd rate this highly. On top of the intellectual flexing and the pointed language, Jefferson is also hella funny. Sometimes she does these asides, these dramatic reenactments that I found hilarious. But again, sometimes its just her use of language, her quippy expressions of thought that had me laughing out loud and rewinding the audiobook to play back. Her writing actually reminded me if Cristina Rivera Garza's writing in Grieving. Garza's writing lacked this level of humor though.

As for content...this book honestly felt like it was written for black audiences, which I appreciate, because its talking about complex issues in the black community. A super simplified summary is that Negroland was/is a class of people who believed in exceptionalism as a solution to most of the racial woes they experienced from being black in America. Jefferson describes what it was like growing up in that environment and the sort of residue it left on her psyche as she matured.

As a lower middle class black kid who went to predominantly white schools in the 90s and early 00s, Negroland is still incredibly relatable. As a child growing up in that environment there is just a lot you're learning on your own, that your parents are teaching you, and that your parents are trying to protect you from racially. Every kid who grows up in a similar situation probably has a memoir's worth of stuff to unpack, so it was nice seeing Jefferson unpack it, acknowledging her flaws and the mistakes she made along the way, and then finally releasing it and moving on.

From a historical/social commentary perspective, I think this provides a treasure trove of unsung heroes, stories, and insight. While more of this generation sees the problems with exceptionalism as a solution, the core issues that supported that idea are why there are still so many conversations about the success of white mediocrity. Like the core issue of the oppression of black has never disappeared in America and Jefferson's story represents one segment of a generation's attempt to solve it. I also think as my own generation has moved away from this idea, its been easy for us to forget just how hard our parents and grandparents were grinding to make this a tolerable country to live in for us. Even if this group was wrong in wanting to be "better" than the average black person, the good they did can't be dismissed. They were the politicians, they were on the different boards, they were integrating neighborhoods. They were living up to whatever white standard was in place so they could get their foot in the door. U.S. culture has changed so much in the last eighty years, and we owe at least part of that to them.

So, yeah, absolutely loved this. Its the history of one segment of a black generation that we don't have enough stories about.
… (més)
tanyaferrell | Hi ha 29 ressenyes més | Dec 23, 2022 |
Margo Jefferson masterfully traces an extensive map of cultural influences that continue to shape her identity as a black woman, and vulnerably, poetically, exposes how she has grappled with them, who she wants to be and why.
librarianlion | Nov 22, 2022 |
Mixed feelings on this memoir. Another one that I don't remember where I heard about it but added it my list of books to read.

I'm reading the book from a place of white privilege and I learned a great deal. There is a great discussion in the book of the racism that is America. She speaks of her family trying to act white but not too white. Never fitting in with other lower-class blacks and not fitting in with whites either. Being on the radar of whites but being careful to better themselves but not too much.

I also feel ashamed. Why do we treat each other this way?

I didn't find it written well at all. Bad grammar and bad punctuation. There were sentences that didn't have any punctuation. Some of it was written like poetry. Some written like text. Entire paragraphs in italics. I couldn't quite figure it all out. Where was the sense in it all? It was all over the place. Like you walked into a conversation mid-conversation and you were never able to contribute because you had no idea where the author was going or what the hell she was talking about. When it was good it was good but when it was bad it was bad. She was trying to teach a history lesson mixed in with her memoir; which is fine but the way she went about it was hard to comprehend sometimes.

Why did the book win so many awards? Is it because she talked about race? Is it because she talked about a different class of blacks we aren't used to hearing about?

There is so much history of courageous men and women in this memoir that I loved learning about. The list of names I wrote down to do more research on begins with names like James Forten, Frances Jackson Coppin, Cyprian Clamorgan, Charlotte Forten, Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, and many more.

Some passages really affected me.

From page 32: In speaking of Anna Julia Cooper: "Like so many women's rights leaders she insists on believing women possess sympathies and spiritual gifts men lack. But - and here she becomes a tough-minded political pragmatist - women cannot reform society without working to educate themselves. And white women can reform nothing until and unless they are willing to relinquish their caste privilege, those codes of racial and social superiority they extol in their men and instill in their children."

From page 43: Margo's mother, when asked if they were upper class, "We're considered upper-class Negroes and upper-middle-class Americans but most people would like to consider us Just More Negroes."

From page 96: She speaks about other perceived lower-class Negro children moving into the neighborhood she lived in bringing in a culture she knew nothing about. Her parents then decided it was time to move again. Better to be upper-class Negro in a white neighborhood than upper-class Negro in a black neighborhood.

From page 114: Margo writes of family members that pass for white. "He was a former white man. And my parents looked down on him a little. Not because he'd passed, but because he'd risen no higher than a traveling salesman. If you were going to take the trouble to be white, you were supposed to do better than you could have done as a Negro."

It was definitely worth the read but overall I didn't like the style it was written in.
… (més)
1 vota
WellReadSoutherner | Hi ha 29 ressenyes més | Apr 6, 2022 |



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