Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shifting [Reflections]

[Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America]

We've been working our way through Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden's Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America.  What is one key idea or quotation that you found yourself lingering on more than others in the book so far? Why?

 

39 comments:

Peyton D. said...

The topic that stood out the most to me was the myth of unshakeability on page 18. It explained that black women feel the need to be strong at all times and independent. They are the ones that take care of everyone but themselves and do not ever ask for help or shed a tear. This stood out to me because this is how I carry myself. I work two jobs while going to school full time. I think that crying is weak and I never ask for help, financially, physically, or emotionally, even if I need it. I am self-reliant and I like it that way.

Natasha H. said...

There are so many instances in this book so far that have really stood out to me. To pick one was hard, but I did find myself lingering on page 105. Vicky was a Black female who grew up in Florida and always had her nose in a textbook. She was made fun of and called a nerd all the time. Plus, while apparently most students talked proper at school, but used slang once they came home, Vicky was different. The more she grew up, the more she always talked proper. Others started making fun of her and called her the "Black White girl" just because she talked properly. They would say she wasn't 'really Black.' Now, everyone at some point in their lives is always called names from people of a different race than them, but to be made fun of by people who you associate yourself with and who you always thought were like you, that hurts. It's happened to me before. Why must we associate poor grammar with being Black? Why must talking properly cause one to be made fun of? As Jones and Shorter-Gooden have pointed out, there are thousands of Black women who have graduated for Harvard, Yale etc. and have doctrines, MBAs, you name it. So why is a Black women who uses proper language suddenly 'White?'

JaLeah M . said...

The bottom of page 110, that paragraph is something I lingered on a little more then anything else. I feel that it is true that not only black women but black people in general automatically have a bias toward them on impression. I can connect personally with making sure I present myself in a good way at all times so that I override that assumption that may or may not be made. I also think this subject is vital for black women during professional circumstances. I also want to agree with Peyton's comment because I am also a self-reliant person (90% of the time). -JaLeah M.

Tayler G. said...

Tayler Gill
There are so many great ideas and topics in this book. But the one that stuck with me the most would be the myth of unshakeability. I can relate to this topic the most which is probably why it stuck with me. I like to think of myself as independent and self-motivated. I rarely ask for help even when I really need it and I prefer to keep my emotions to myself. With this being said some people may think I never need help or support but in reality I do.

Deborrah B. said...

One of the main ideas that stood out to me is the fact that black people can be punished on both sides for speaking a certain way. In chapter 4, "Seeking A Voice," it explains many instances where black people were considered to be uneducated because of the dialect that they speak. On the other hand, if a black person speaks "too white" they have trouble fitting in with black people that speak differently than they do. I never understood why this country is like this or why speaking properly means that you talk white, when many people speak very proper but just sound different because of their dialect.
Deborrah B.

Breanna B. said...

I couldn't agree more with Natasha about Vicky's story. I went to a predominantly white school. I never was your stereotypical black kid, and for this I lost my "black card." My friends would make comments like, "You aren't really black; you're just white." And why? Because I spoke well, did well in school, and didn't fit the black stereotypes. It's not fair to the African American race to strip intelligence away from them by saying they are white--as if intelligence is a characteristic of only white people. I think this idea will always be something we face, and it's all too unfortunate.

Niagra Bee said...

The thing that sticks out to me is again something brought up by Robyn on page 106. The concept of "acting White" is something I most identify with. Ginny's story, starting at the beginning of chapter 6, also applies to this. I was raised to act professionally so when I pass a group of black people, I stand up straighter and put up a more business oriented face. If it's a loud bunch of white people, I instead get curious about what they are doing. I've conditioned myself to show that I'm different from the stereotype and therefore different from "black people." That never seemed wrong to me because of being naturally conditioned to see the benefits of "acting white" and the disadvantages of "acting black."

-Querra

devinrules97 said...


One key quotation that I still think about from the book comes from Shelly on page 44. Shelly was sexually assaulted by her boss, and had also lost job opportunities because she would not sleep with the man doing the hiring. Shelly quotes that "I just think that for me, sexism has never been a problem." This quote stuck with me because even through the abuse and neglect that Shelly faced, she was still unable to process sexism as a problem for her.
Devin S.

Maya Searcy said...

The story that stuck with me the most was the one about vicky. Before this story the chapter talked about how black people change their speech around white people. This way they don't seem unintelligent or less than. However my school was a predominately white school with some blacks, some hispanics, some asians. When I heard black kids and/or hispanic kids talking to one another, some would say "you sound so white" if someonw didnt use slang and pronounced each syllable. When I talked to these kids, they would say that I "was so white and not really black." When they said this I didn't really mind. I found that a lot of black kids at my school followed the black streotype. I tried to avoid this and just be myslef, not a stereotype.

Erica King said...

Even though it is in the beginning of the book on page 7, the idea that black women "shift" in order to fit into certain situation still hangs on my mind. Personally, for me it is sometimes true, when I am around my family is totally different from when I am at my place of work but I also feels as if it is not just black women who "shifts". My job has a huge diversity in workers and I'm pretty positive all of them does not talk to their tables that they are serving like how they would talk at home.

Kytela Medearis said...

I found that Vicky's story stood out the most to me in the book so far. My parents are white so I neevr frew up knowing and hearing the 'black slang' that it seems to be expected for me to know. When I first ame here to college, it was like a culture shock to me. Ive heard slang left and right and am always asking for explanations. I've never been a 'typical' black person, and instead got ridiculed or looked at funny for speaking properlly and professionally. Just because I'm African American does not mean that I can't be intelligent. Like Breanna said, intelligence is not just a characteristic of a white person but anyone can be intelligent. It is not fair to African Americans trying to break the stereotype for people to make them feel inferior.

Jazmyn Maggitt said...

There have been a lot topics that have been intriguing and have made me stop and think, but the one that stuck with me the most was Robyn's story on page 106. I think the reason it has stayed with me the most is because it's the story that I have the most connection to. I've literally been in the exact same situation as her, having grown up in a predominately white town. And so reading about how she then struggled to meet the expectations of certain black people really hit home. There were a few black people in my school who grew up around other black people, where I didn't so I didn't really feel like we connected because of it.
Jazmyn M.

Aja J said...

The key idea that stood out the most to me was the myth of promiscuity(29). According to this section, African American women are viewed as sexually charged individuals. I personally think that social media and our peers are to blame for this. Through many studies, it was shown that this stereotype of African American women was not accurate.

Dakarai P. said...

This book discusses several topics that really resonate with me, but the one that sticks more than any other is in chapter 4 where they talk about black women "talking white" in order to be viewed as intelligent. Since reading this chapter I've become aware of how often I do this both consciously and unconsciously. I found myself "talking white" in a job interview because I wanted to be preceded as professional. One quote on page 96 summed up my fear of being viewed as unprofessional, "Suddenly, because of a single conversation, Carolyn was no longer seen for who she is-an intelligent, capable, sophisticated Black woman. Instead she seemed to be viewed as comical, unrefined, uncouth."

Kayla Daniels said...

The topic that stands out most to me is the "Shifting for Survival, Shifting for Self Destruction" on pages 62-64. I fully understand the pains of trying to figure what person you want to be and feeling confused. I even understand switching "personalities" because it would benefit you the most. To me, this is my life in a nutshell. This short passage managed to cut my life down to two full pages. Incredible.

Kayla Daniels

Carlie Bibbs said...

The quote that stood out to me the most is on page 26 and it reads "...when Black women are stereotyped, they pay a price, and when, like Artemis, they defy the stereotypes, they may pay a price as well." I feel like this statement is very true in our modern time. It feels like society wants to belittle us no matter what it is that we do. If they we live up to the stereotypes they have for us then they're like "see I knew it. She's exactly what we said she was," but then if we go against those stereotypes then they want to view us as that one exception to the rule. When in all actuality, there is no set rule on how Black women are and how we should be.

A said...

"....many Black women find the courage to voice their grievances and seek change in their lives"(pg 55). I think this quote is very relevant and important in this day and age. I feel like now, we see more black women and other people of color voicing their opinions, apologetically. From Shonda rimes, to Beyonce, to Viola Davis, to Nicki minaj, and to Zendaya Coleman, these are but a few, who have letting their voices be heard about the patriarchy, sexism, and racism in the media and their respected expertise. It's something that has grown, and I'm very proud to be alive to be part and witness. Black women have voices, soft and loud, and it is time for the world to hear them.

-Asher D

Persephone Cole said...

The story Sexual Abuse by One's Own has really stuck out to me the most in this book so far. Celeste's story was the most touching, because I could really relate to the pain she went through. My grandfather was abusive to my grandmother and my father used to abuse my mother. Both, my grandmother and mother are very significant figures in my life and I really admire and respect them for being strong enough to leave their abusive relationships.
Although, I don't condone or like the things my dad put my mom through he has matured and changed. Abuse is something serious and it can seriously affect, harm, or destroy some people. I was never abused by my father or grandfather but sadly, I was still emotionally harmed by the effects of the past.

Taylor M. said...

It is hard for me to pin point a story that stood out the most to me. However the passages in chapter 2 all were so easy to relate to and has been one of my favorite chapters so far. A lot of what that chapter talked about was things that I encounter daily. Some things I notice instantly but others are so internalized that they are harder to point out. I hope that one day we can get to a point where people will try to understand the hardships of others who are different than them.
Taylor M.

Kellsey H said...

The notion that stuck out to me the most was the one concerning race and the way that a person acts. I have lingered on this the most because I can relate to it so well. I went to a predominantly white high school, and in college I hang out with mostly african american individuals. My african american friends never fail to tell me that I act white, or that I am not black enough.

Sydney J said...

The topic that has stuck with me the most is the one about black women being scared of turning in black males for abuse. It just really bothers me that many of them actually feel this way simply because they are the same skin tone and will be scrutinized if they do report them to the police. I just thinks these women should be supported for their strength in coming out with the problem because many women come up with excuses not to report their significant other and let the abuse continue for years and years.
Sydney J.

Alexis Acoff said...

One of the topics that stuck out to me the most was when the author said that research was done to prove that many black women feel pressured to look or be acceptable to others, which could end up being the total opposite of their true selves. I can personally connect with this because I also feel that I should feel accepted with the white community some days and the black community others.

Naomi Thompson said...

The quote from the book that really stands out to me is "If you always speak 'White', you may win respect in the conventional White world, but end up alienating your Black friends and family. If you always speak 'Black', you risk being perceived as less intelligent and sophisticated than you truly are, and assimilation into the outside White world may become close to impossible" (pg. 95-96). I believe this is the essence of 'shifting' between two personalities and lives. The fact that black women are able to transition so smoothly from different dialects astounds me.

YaQkeha Witherspoon said...

The topic that stuck with me was actually something from the actual survey, and that is martial status. 42% of the survey participants, and 56% of the interviewees have never been married. And that made me wonder why. Why is what I consider a high percentage of black women not getting married? Is it because of black and white men not wanting to marry a black woman? Is it because of some way of thinking that these black women are having that is preventing them from getting married? Or is it just because they simply do not want to? I just found that fascinating.

Lindsey McCall said...

What I found myself lingering on the most is when we discussed how we're sometimes blinded by racism that we completely dismiss the existence of sexism. This stayed with me the most because I found myself paying more attention to what is said to me in both aspects rather than just focusing on racism.

Anonymous said...

The portion of the book that I found myself thinking about the most was the portion of chapter two that talked about the game of double dutch and how that game belonged to Black women. In the game of double dutch you have to keep your balance between the two ropes. Page thirty-eight quoted says, "As girls, then as adults, Black women tell us again and again that they must struggle to keep their balance as they straddle the twin identities of race and gender, shifting their step, altering their rhythm, devising a new move at a moment's notice. Many do it with grace, navigating the intricacies of two realities I am black! I am woman!" This is a powerful message that metaphorically compares a childhood game to the daily struggles of African American women. As black women, we have to find a balance in life. We feel the need to find and balance between sexism and racism. As black women, we already have two strikes against us, two strikes against seeking and receiving equality. These two strikes are being African American and being a woman. As an African American we are constantly discriminated against; still today racism exists and we are looked down upon and seen as less than human. As women we are put down and seen as an item rather than a person. Men and society shun us and we are labeled as being inferior to men. Women are more than capable of holding the same positions and being in charge like men. The pressure Black women have on their backs to fight the stereotypes of being a Black woman can be overwhelming. Like the book says some "...get caught between the two identities, tangled, confused. Sexism and racism meld together, coming at them all at once. It is too much to focus on both, so instead they choose one. They lose their balance, stumble, and fall." Some women lose themselves in trying to find balance. Achieving balance, as in double dutch, takes practice and patience. Balance comes with time.
McKayla Wright

Ty Bruce said...

I found myself lingering on the fact that black women feel the need change their whole personality in order to feel acceptional. I'm familiar with this but to the extent that it is explained in this story actually makes me reflect on myself . It makes me question why I have the need to fit in or change myself depending on the people I'm around.
Tyjohnea Bruce

Jade H. said...

This book has pointed out things that people don't really think about every day, which is why the topic on page 59 about racism and sexism not being an either-or proposition stuck with me the most. People always hear about how African Americans face racism, but they never think of how Black women have to face sexism too. I don’t like to go into gas stations because every time I do, I get hit on by strangers. They cat call and whistle, just trying to make sure I feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I just ignore them, other times I have to tell them to leave me alone. I can really relate to this topic and all the other Black women who deal with sexism too.
Jade H.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

The topic that has stuck with me the most is from Chapter 2 where Julie describes her sexual harrasment experience with Tariq. It is just so shocking to me that black males would risk losing there jobs over harrassment after all the extra work they put it to obtain that type of position. It is also troubling to me how black woman do not want to report the harrasment they endure by black men in tge workplace. I beleive they should be able to and feel comfortable protecting their selves and their body even if it means complaining about someone from their own race.
-Alexandra D

Kiara C said...

What i found myself lingering on the most is the fact that people are so quick to point out that men and women are different, yet cant seem to see when they are equal. On page 54 Maya explains how she went to a meeting with her peers and yet the man leading the meeting felt the need to emphasize that she and another member there were women. What she says at the end is what really made me think. She says that if he had said "we have two blacks here...everyone would realize how inappropriate and demeaning it was."

Samiya Barber said...

One topic that still stands out to me is battling the myths. On page 67, it says, "But i notice with White people, at times you need to put that out there just to give them pause and make them respect you." This still stands out to me because even though people do not expect a lot of black people to graduate from college, it is a huge accomplishment that she should be proud of. This quote is just a reminder of how you have to really do great things in able for certain people to respect you.

Tameah Foley said...

The concept that I lingered the most was the gender silence section, chapter 2. Most people do not understand the challenges black women face. Not only do we have to endure racism but sexism as well and it is emotionally draining. Black women are often stereotyped as always having an attitude, however, no one considers the reasons behind it.

Alona Davenport said...

I was able to connect with a lot of what was said in this book, yet, what I mainly remember is when it was shown that although slavery was abolished, and women were able to vote all of these years ago, black women are still discriminated against more than others. Yes, I was slightly aware of this, but it was more of something that I wanted to avoid the reality of. I guess it really stuck with me because it's giving me a little taste of the reality of being a black woman.
Alona D.

Shardai J-H. said...

On page 70, when the book mentions Black women make "split second decisions on whether to challenge an opinion; on whether to work overtime to disprove myths" stood out to me. The hard truth is that we individually represent our entire race and mainly bad characteristics are placed upon a group of people and is what others remember. In classes I sit in the front and participate, working overtime to not seem lazy, mostly for the sole fact I am one of 3 Blacks in my class. It becomes tiresome after a while. At times I don't feel like getting up for class, but I know if I don't show up, my professors will easily notice after one time, and expect me to miss again from misleading stereotypes of the Black community being 'lazy'.

Jamesha M. said...

Everything I've read so far from Charise Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden has me thinking more. The concepts, ideas, and plethora of evidence is not new information, it's just shocking to realize the truth from Jones and Shorter-Gooden's words.

"It's been nearly 150 years since slavery was abolished, more than 80 years since women won the right to vote, an over 40 years since the March on Washington; and yet today-still, today, in the twenty-first century-Black women are constantly made susceptible to both racial and ender discrimination..."(38). This quote lingers in my mind because of the truth it holds. After 150 years we can still write books and recall instances of mistreatment to Black women. And after the abolishment of slavery, Suffrage, and the March on Washington, Black women are still treated unfairly and many don't realize it or don't know what to do about it.

Jamesha M. said...

Everything I’ve read so far from Charise Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden has me thinking more. The concepts, ideas, and evidence is not new information it’s just shocking to realize the truth from Jones and Shorter-Gooden’s words.

“It’s been nearly 150 years since slavery was abolished, more than 80 years since women won the right to vote, and over 40 years since the March on Washington; and yet today–still, today, in the twenty-first century–Black women are constantly made susceptible to both racial and gender discrimination…”(38). This quote is lingering in my mind because of the truth it holds. After nearly 150 years we can still write books and recall instances of mistreatment to Black women. And after the abolishment of slavery, Suffrage, and the March on Washington, Black women are treated unfairly and many don’t realize or don’t know what to do about it.

Shelby Washington said...

It is difficult to isolate one instance where I was baffled, enlightened, and left pondering on the idea myself. If I had to speak on one it would be the myth of unshakability, starting on page 18, because resonates with me the most. As a black woman I can relate to this myth, but it does not feel like a myth to me. Growing up, I watched black women close to me struggle gracefully with life's daily tribulations. Living check to check, raising children, working and providing for their families. To be a woman is hard. Although circumstances have changed, this world still manages to devalue women. It is hard being black, but to be a black WOMAN- the odds are not in our favor. It is astonishing, yet it's what makes us, us. If you say black woman, the word strong is not too far behind. We are, I believe, the backbone of our families and the foundation of this world.

sierra lucas said...

The part that really lingered with me is the myth of unshakeability. This states that black women always needs to be independent and strong. This stayed with me because this what all my black role models have taught me in my life including my mother, grandmother, and aunts. Due to this i never ask for help no matter the situation because I feel it makes me look weak. I also refuse to let myself cry and the few times that I do cry I make sure I am alone and nobody is around to see me.

Ashley Murray said...

I find the issue of sexual assault in the workplace as a big issue on page 44. She was taken advantage of not only due to race but gender as well. It's so many issues like this that are overlooked because women do not speak up in their defense. I also believe that black women specifically always have this guard up because of others bias against us. We have to maintain an image and be sure to present ourselves a certain way just to avoid getting labeled by outsiders.