This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America

In a confident voice, 20-something Catapult contributing editor Morgan Jerkins shares her experiences as a black, female feminist in the United States. This debut collection "is not a one-size-fits-all tale about black womanhood," Jerkins points out. "The particular experience of the black woman in modern America needs to be addressed. But there isn't just one; there are many. Millions to be exact." Jerkins's alone is the subject of This Will Be My Undoing, and the book allows readers to peer into the lens through which she has viewed the first three-plus decades of her life.

The opening piece, "Monkeys Like You," takes the audience back to Jerkins's suburban New Jersey elementary school, where she tries out for the cheerleading squad unsuccessfully. The description of her disappointment is heartbreaking, and anyone who's failed to make a team or achieve a goal will connect with that feeling of dejection and worthlessness. But the added element of discrimination causes Jerkins to look back later and decide, "It wasn't simply because I wasn't good enough to make the team. I couldn't make the team because I was not human.... And maybe that was what I was really trying out for, not a cheerleading squad, a chance to be a person."

Jerkins's essays present many issues faced by black women, and This Will Be My Undoing is likely just the beginning of her influence on the role of black women in the United States. As she is careful to point out, she is just one voice and her story doesn't speak for all black women, but with any luck her one voice will inspire other voices to add to the chorus of change. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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