Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shifting: Reflections

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

After completing Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America, Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden what's one idea that you found most memorable, challenging, or surprising concerning the book? Why or how so?

37 comments:

Natasha said...

One thing I found interesting and surprising were the results of The African American Women's Voice Project on page 282. I had no idea so many women would vote for "Sexually promiscuous, loose immortal, whore" as the top stereotype for African American women. That stereotype had 31% of the vote while "'Ghetto, hostile, rude'" or "Uneducated, unintelligent, incompetent" only had 27% and 24%, respectively. This survey, and really the book as a whole, provide great evidence of all the racism out there and how urgent it is for us to continue to change. I hope a version of this book is published again when my kids are growing up and hopefully the numbers in the survey will have gone drastically. Thank you for picking such an eye-opening book for us to read!

Anonymous said...

The biggest idea that seems to stick out in this book is that black women seem to have to hold themselves up to someone else's standards. They try way too hard to make other people happy and sadly, in many cases, they have no choice in the matter if they want to be successful. They either limit themselves or limit their professional life.

-Que'rra

Kayla Daniels said...

The idea that our society is so Eurocentric that black women feel shame for their skin color and features. To me, this is something that I personally struggled with. Finding that confidence to say that I am "pretty" took years of practice and dedication. Luckily, I had a mother who knew exactly how I felt and knew all the right words to say to give me that confidence. There may be some struggles for black mothers to teach their children that they are beautiful. Just know that my mom succeeded so it can be done.

Erica King said...

The idea that I found to be most memorable is on pages 176-205, where it talks about black women and beauty. It is most memorable to me because I wrote an essay for my English class on this same topic and when reading this chapter I noticed some stuff that I put in my paper that they also had in the book.

Maya Searcy said...

The most memorable lesson to me was about speech and how, as black women, theres one speech you use with friends and another with collueges. Or you get to avoid speaking on a certain wat because of you speak with slang then people look at you different. I thought this was most memorable because I often stuggle with this because I don't want to be put with a sterotype that isn't true, but at the same time I have to be myself.

Aja J. said...

One topic I found to be the most memorable was Black women and Beauty. I think that this is a very common topic today among many black women. One idea presented in this section is the lily complex. It talks about how many women “internalize the mainstream message that says Black is not beautiful, believing that she can be lovely by impersonating someone else,” (177). I know a lot of people that can relate to that statement and I also think it is a huge issue in society.

Kellsey H said...

The notion that I found most memorable was that relating to the societal expectations of women. For some reason, it seems as though women are looked upon as a stepping stool. For instance, women are expected to behave in such a manner as to provide others with happiness. It is quite disheartening.

Sydney J said...

The most memorable idea is to me was regarding black women being forced to put on a front in public. These women feel like they aren't allowed to be themselves in public because of the way they talk or portray themselves. It's unfortunate that hard working women are shamed because of who they are. It;s not fair that people are forced to act like someone they're not to keep a job. I wouldn't want to work somewhere I didn't feel accepted and comfortable.
Sydney J.

sierra lucas said...

What i took away from the book was the fact that black women must go through a lot to uphold themselves to another persons standards. they must either limit their abilities and success to be liked or be okay with being hated and reach their full potential. Most of the time however they must limit themselves to make others happy and that is very sad. Sierra L.

Asher said...

This reading has been the most enticing I have had the privilege to read. I really resonated with many of the topics talked about, but I most resonated with the section in the book in which the author talk about difference in speech. I talk a certain way with my parents, my friends, and my classmates/professors. I feel like if I were to talk the way I do with my friends and family, to my classmates and mostly white professors, my credibility would be gone. That is something that I have come to realize that has become internalized and I shouldn't think like that.

-Asher D.

Fiona H. said...

One idea I found most interesting is the idea of being a double minority and how it can be an advantage. Black women always have a negative stigma surrounding them, regardless of how we excel in education and in the work place. The more I think about it, I think saying that a double minority is advantage is ridiculous. As a double minority, you have to be better than everyone around you and even if you are, its never enough. Its so unfortunate.

JaLeah M . said...

The African American Women's voices project was very interesting to me. The surveys really shed light into the lives and thoughts of black women. One specific thing that stunned me was that a large percentage of women said that a negative stereotype about black women in the US was, being "uneducated, unintelligent and incompetent" (282). Overall, I believe this book is a good read for all African American women at any age because it is important to be aware of these topics. Women and young ladies should know that although stereotypes such as these do exist... it should in no way affect one's character in a negative way, meaning it shouldn't make anyone feel inferior.

Jamesha M. said...

“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 has stuck with me and is still so surprising. It’s crazy to know that after all this time and all of the accomplishments made that Black women are still separated and looked over. It’s so saddening that Black women are not given the opportunities as Black men or their fellow women.

Alexis Acoff said...

The most memorable idea that the book suggested in my opinion was the fact that black women have to mold themselves to be acceptable in many different ways to many different groups of people. Its obvious that black women have many challenges in the world we live in but I did not realize some of them until I read the book, such as having to teach your children to look, don't touch when going to a grocery store. I thought this was a really great book to read in my spare time and it opened me up to many aspects of life that I never really paid much attention to.

Tameah Foley said...

This is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. The most memorable part of the book was the chapter about relationships with black women and men, also, the chapter about black women and church. Those chapters really resonated with me because they confirmed stereotypes that I was already aware of.

Alona Davenport said...

Something that was surprising to me was just how much I connected with this book. For obvious reasons, I should've known this, but I grew up being known as the "whitest black kid" people knew. I was never really quite sure what people meant by that because I always assumed that I acted just as "black" as everyone else. This book showed that I'm not the whitest black kid and that that's not a compliment to take. I'm just black and that's all.
-Alona D.

Kytela Medearis said...

The thing that stood out to me the most, is how versitile African American women have to be. It is as if we can't be ourselves, instead we have to make sure we please everyone else, and act a certain way to gain their approval. It is so shocking how much prejudice African American women go through. I also think the story about speech is an important one to remember. Talking 'black' or 'white' is not a thing. Speech is not a color. I think many people are unaware of how offensive it can be to tell an African American that they talk 'white'. I just can not wait for the time to come when we are not defined by the color of our skin.

Deborrah Blackburn said...

One of the things that stood out the most to me in this book was how black women feel as though they have to stay in their husband's/boyfriend's shadow. Its sad that in this society we have to make ourselves seem invisible so that our men can be in the spotlight. I understand that many women feel the need to do this because of the attacks on black men in this. Hopefuly one day everyone will be treated equally and everyone can have the chance to be in the spotlight.
Deborrah B.

Tayler G said...

I think the whole project was interesting. It brought forward major topics and issues concerning black women. But the whole idea of shifting really stood out to me. The majority of the book was about how African American women have to shift or change themselves to what society wants them to be. Whether it's in relationships, at work, and even at home black women have to change to be what other people want them to be.
I think this book was a good eye opener as well, I was unaware of a few topics and I'm glad I got a better insight on what us black women face in today's world.

Tayler G.

Shardai J-H. said...

One idea that I found interesting was that idea of putting on these different faces around different people. A Black woman almost loses her identity trying to please others just to get to a comfortable place in life. This happens especially on the job or in classrooms. With being the minority in all of my classes, I make it a goal to sit in front of the class, to be present all the time, and to be engaged; so that I won't be that one Black kid that sits in the back and slacks off. I do this to dismiss any bias that a professor already has of me because the color of my skin. This becomes tiring and harmful when I push to go when I don't feel that well. My mother said she had to do it, so I have no excuse.

Breanna B. said...

Fiona, I couldn't agree more! It is ABSURD to think black women, a double minority, are advantaged. If anything they have been further disadvantaged by this social status, and it is all but impossible to move forward with the weight of this disadvantage. No matter your accomplishments, you will always be compared to the majority as the minority you are. The day when this stigma is shattered will be a glorious day for mankind.

devinrules97 said...

The most memorable part in the book to me was on page 165. The story about Vanessa and how she was hired just to make another employee angry. Vanessa talks about how she used to find comfort in her boss when he was around, and would feel lost and all by herself when he was not there. I always think about this story and how tough it must of been for Vanessa to go to work everyday scared of what her white male colleagues were treating her. I know what it is like to be the outcast in a group and have everyone feel a different way towards you.
-Devin S.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

One quote that has still stuck with me while reading the remainder of the book was on page 60. "Black women are yoga masters. We're required to bend in as many different ways as possible in our daily activities. We have to be extremely flexible and people expect us to be good at it--friends, family, relatives, coworkers, society." This quote is still one of my favorites because I can truly relate to it. Black women are expected to be everything and never expected to make mistakes. It's hard to be imperfect when everybody wants, requires and expects you to be perfect.

Alexandra D.

Peyton D. said...

I agree with Que'rra that it stood out that black women in some ways seem to hold themselves to the standards of others. Constantly trying to prove people wrong and making everyone else happy will only hold the black woman back. Every woman should focus on their own goals, lives, families, ect. and not worry about the standards and biases of others. When one focuses within and does not allow the negativity of the world impact them, she can achieve happiness and success.

Jazmyn Maggitt said...

One of the things that resonated most with me, was the chapter about the difference in speech. This was one of the chapters that I had the most connection to and it made me realize that we're all different, and one of those distinguishing differences can be the way we talk and there is nothing wrong with that. Just because I happen to talk more like a "white-person" would doesn't make me any less of an African American woman.

Jessica D said...

The most memorable thing I read about was the beauty of black women. To some races having natural hair and a dark skin complexion isn't considered beauty. There shouldn't be a certain look that determines how beauty one is. We should all be able to feel comfortable in our own skin. Women are also judged on how light or dark there skin complexion is. It shouldn't matter, the complexion of our skin doesn't make us different. Everyone is beautiful in their own ways. Our society needs to stop defining beauty by skin color.

YaQkeha Witherspoon said...

I agree with Maya. After reading this book, I have caught myself several times changing my voice when dealing with customers. And I found it so crazy how it has become an automatic thing. I don't even try to change my voice, it just happens. But, I am now trying to correct the learned behavior. I don't want to change any part of me to be more appealing to white people. Or even black people.

Shelby W said...

The idea that I found most interesting after completing the book was the idea of “shifting” itself. It was interesting to hear the uncomfortableness that many a Black women are accustomed to in their childhoods and especially their adult life. Moreover, the fact that Black women shift even for those we should be most comfortable around is extremely shocking and unfortunate. This reading made me more conscience of the shifting that I do as well.

Kiara C said...

The thing that stood out to me was the fact that through out the whole book black women were more concerned about how others perceive them and trying to make others happy instead of finding happiness for themselves. This stood out to me because I myself constanly try to monitor my "blackness" so I'm at the "appropriate" level for the group of people both black and white.

Anonymous said...

The most memorable idea from the text for me was the idea concerning the pain of gender silence. Many Black women are taught to only acknowledge racism and the acts of sexism tend to go unnoticed. Black women are the most discriminated against due to being a double minority. Oftentimes we devalue ourselves when it comes to being in romantic relationships with Black men. Because of hypothetical blows society throws at Black men we are expected even taught as young girls to overly understanding and accepting. This over acceptance of the shortcomings of our men oftentimes leads to abuse and the woman being the sole provider in the household. The woman typically stays with the man in spite of the man not having a job or the abuse that they're undergoing. We are taught to keep up the facade of being able to handle any negative thing that comes out way, and because of this practice we stay committed to terrible relationships and make excuses for the men who are unproductive and abusive. The constant excuse of the world being tough on a Black men or the excuse of the White man keeping the black man down is enabling these type of men to continue in their ways.

McKayla W.

Dakarai P. said...

One major point that stuck out to me throughout this book is black women are always being held to standards that seem to benefit others more than themselves. Black women put their own needs to the side to make way for everyone else. Those who do not are then criticized for not fitting into the mold society has designated for them.

Anonymous said...

After reading this book, I feel more aware of my surrounding as a black woman. This book reminded me and enlighted me on all of the the ways my path of life could be altered based on both my race AND gender. I would notice when I would be treated differently or unfairly, but now when it happens I feel more prone to invoke change in the world around me. I understand that I can't change everyone's views however I want people to have a chance to see me as I truly am instead of the person they think I man.
Taylor M.

Jade H. said...

This book had a lot of good points about Black women in today's society, but the most memorable thing I got out of this book is how strong Black women are. Throughout this entire book we read about the struggles Black women deal with everyday and how hard it is to blend in with others, and that alone shows just how strong Black women are. Although Black women do all the shifting and face many challenges with themselves and the others around them, people don't realize that Black women are still getting done what needs to be done. Even in those moments when we break down and cry, throw our hands up and give up, we still get back on our feet and finish what we had set in motion and that is why Black women are so strong.
Jade H.

Carlie Bibbs said...

Black women and their beauty was the most memorable section of the book for me. I recently saw a post where someone was saying that when black women are commented on about their beauty, it's because that person is usually glorifying the black woman's European features. For example, complimenting a dark skinned girl because she has loosely curled hair and a thinner nose is basically saying that she is beautiful in spite of her blackness. In reality, black women are beautiful BECAUSE of our blackness. In the chapter Mirror Mirror on the Wall, I thought it was sad how many black women feel they need to hold themselves up to European standards of beauty. And this need is created way before we even realize it. As young girls, we want to straighten our hair, or stay skinny, or sometimes we wish we were lighter. I feel like a lot of black women aren't able to stray away from those beauty standards until we are far much older, and that's the sad part. I wish we were able to accept our blackness at a young age before society alters our views.

Carlie Bibbs

Naomi Thompson said...

This book has left an impression on me as a whole. Every part should be read and taken into consideration when talking about what it is to 'shift' and living as a black women. I plan to share this book with many people because it really helps explain my every day life. Because I am mixed, half black and half white, I constantly have to shift between two personas and I wish I could just be one. Even within my family, they expect me to behave accordingly to their predispositions, but I'll still never get used to being called "the whitest black girl" anyone's ever met. Just because I can speak proper English does not mean I speak White. Also, just because I get upset and raise my voice does not make me a 'crazy black chick'. Overall, this book helped me find my true voice through a journey of self discovery and understanding. Thank you for introducing me to myself.

Ty Bruce said...

The most memorable moment of this story is when the author described how black women changed themselves around others . They would change how they spoke & how they carried themselves. This was the most memorable for me because I could relate to it and I have done it before . It was also surprising to me because of course people know it happens but no one ever speaks on it. It also hit home when it mentioned how black women train their children to do the same. It was like preparing them to grow in two different lives . It was a great read . Tyjohnea Bruce

Persephone Cole said...

The idea I found most memorable is that black women are afraid to be themselves, naturally. It is deemed true that natural hair is not professional or beautiful, so instead, they perm their hair or wear synthetic hair. It is also so said that dark skin, big lips, and big hips are all not beautiful. It's so sad that black women are stereotyped as less beautiful than other races, because even though it's not true, some black women have started to believe it. We shouldn't have to relax our hair to feel more comfortable at a job interview; it should be about how qualified and skillfull the woman is not how straight her hair is. The media has left many black women to feel insecure about themselves. Dark skin is beautiful; we need to embrace it.