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Emily Bernard's 'Black Is The Body' Is A Stunning Familial Portrait

 

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Black Is The Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, And Mine
By Emily Bernard
(Knopf)     

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There are countless ways we feel connected to family. But one of the biggest is shared history. In Black is the Body, Emily Bernard explores her familial connections to the American South, Jim Crow, and rural, Black living by introducing readers to her roots. Bernard also draws her two adopted Ethiopian daughters into the narrative by analyzing her connection to Africa, her girls’ personal connections to Africa, and the relationship to Black hair that they share as mother and daughters. What does a story of a young Black girl wanting to get her hair relaxed teach us? Bernard uses personal and relatable anecdotes like this to examine the connection between Black hair and Black freedom, gendered social mores, racial social mores, and what being a good mother means.

Learning from our family histories, and bringing those lessons to our modern families, is what this work is all about. Bernard listens to both her elders and her kids to better understand herself—and invites us all to do the same. (4/5)

Black is the Body was published January 29, 2019.

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By Brianne Kane
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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