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In her collection of linked essays, Jerkins takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to "be"-- to live as, to exist as-- a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged...
"Laila desperately wants to become a mother, but each of her previous pregnancies has ended in heartbreak. This time has to be different, so she turns to the Melancons, an old and powerful Harlem family known for their caul, a precious layer of skin that is the secret source of their healing power. When a deal for Laila to acquire a piece of caul falls through, she is heartbroken, but when the child is stillborn, she is overcome with grief and rage....
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An acclaimed cultural critic presents the story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.