You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilence, and the Black Experience is an anthology that was put together by Tarana Burke and Dr. Brene Brown. The goal of the anthology was to bring together a unique group of Black writers, artists, academics, organizers, and cultural figures to discuss the topic of vulnerability and shame resilence. For many this was a topic that was close to the heart. Within these pages, a safe space was created. A safe space to discuss and process the trauma of white supremacy and a safe space where the authors could be vulnerable and real.
My first reaction to finishing this anthology was “wow. what a gift.” To have an anthology where Black authors could come together and be vulnerable really is a gift. There really is no other way to describe it. This was a beautiful safe place for honesty, reflection, and total self awareness. Many of this comes from periods of deep pain making these essays even more vulnerable.
As a middle class white woman, I understand that I will never fully understand the depth and the trauma experienced by these contributors. However, I’m thankful for the opportunity to read these reflections about origins of shame, oppression, the experience of systematic racism, and having to work twice as hard to prove your worth. There are also reflections of how important it is for Black people to allow themselves to be vulnerable and to experience love and joy. The fact that the contributors all come from different backgrounds allowed for multiple perspectives on these topics.
I had borrowed this anthology on Libby which allowed me to highlight any passages I felt spoke to me or really had me thinking. One of these quotes was right at the beginning: “I don’t believe your antiracist work is complete or valid or useful if you haven’t engaged in Black humanity.” To me, this quote was crucial in regards to what this anthology was about and what the future of antiracism work should be. Black humanity is a piece of antiracism work that is often overlooked and/or ignored. Instead of listening to the people and their experiences, the focus is often on the larger picture. This is a problem because ignores the actual Black experience – the love, the joy, the pain, the humanity – all of it. All of this needs to be addressed and respected in order to truly have antiracism work reach its full potential.
The You Are Your Best Thing anthology is thought provoking, vulnerable, and inspiring. It is a diverse collection that addresses multiple topics close to the Black experience. It encourages antiracist work that promotes self-love, healing, and revealing and letting go of personal shame. I really enjoyed reading the various stories and through them have found several new authors I cannot wait to learn more about.
Rating: 4 Stars