If you don’t know my origin story, I was born in Trinidad, one half of the twin island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. As a tall girl who looked older for her age, by the time I was 10 years old I felt exposed. The looks and comments from older members of the opposite sex made me hate being female. I hated feeling vulnerable. Added to that I never fit into what was envisioned as being a Black Caribbean young woman. Honestly, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I stepped into and accepted being a woman. I’m currently reading a review copy of Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up by Melissa Cummings- Quarry & Natalie A. Carter (founders of Black Girls’ Book Club) and let me tell you, this island girl wishes she had a book like that ‘growing up’.
Yuh tink yuh big!
Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up as the title indicates was written with Black British girls in mind, well teens. Still, reading it I could relate. As a teen, if you had an opinion ‘yuh tink yuh big’. If you had a dream beyond your social class ‘yuh shittin’ in high grass’ . Oh! If you failed to accomplish a task that you had never been thought in the first place, ‘how come yuh don’t know dat yet’. These are comments from within our family and community …
In the chapter, entitled ‘Is that you, yeah’, Sareeta Domingo stated as a Black British person ‘… there’s no one way to be’, I would extend that to being Black anywhere in the world. I too was teased for having interests in things not deemed ‘a Black thing’. Mel B says it best in her heartfelt introduction to the book, ‘… to know who you really are is the real power.’ As a woman in my late 40’s I stand firm and proud in my femininity … albeit menopausal. There are many facets to womanhood; we are more than boobs and vagina.
About the book
Grown is the ultimate guide to navigating life as a Black teenage girl in the UK, from understanding identity to the politics of hair to maintaining squad goals to dealing with microaggressions to consent to figuring out career paths. Natalie and Melissa share stories – the wins and the Ls – and offer honest, practical advice that will show readers how to own their choices. To live their truth without fear. To be grown on their own terms without limits or apologies. With a foreword from the inimitable Spice Girl Melanie Brown and contributions from inspirational Black women such as Diane Abbott MP, Dorothy Koomson and Candice Carty-Williams and gorgeous illustrations from Dorcas Magbadelo, Grown is a celebration of Black British girlhood that will empower readers to live their very best life.
My Thoughts On Grown
Firstly, I am grateful to Melissa and Natalie for writing Grown. As an expat mum raising a daughter in England, some experiences will be uniquely hers. She will never know what it’s like to come of age and not be seen as a ‘minority’. Grown has given me an insight into growing up Black in Britain. The book covers vital topics such as: self-care, body language, employment and finance. It’s a coming of age essential guide. Melissa says,
“Grown is the complete manifestation of all the experiences of Black women who came before us”.
No matter how grown we are, we don’t always know how to deal with racism and microaggression, especially in the work place. Grown includes a check list of what to do, while also sharing that it was OK to walk away sometimes. They advise on being realistic with our expectation of the outcome, if we do decide to pursue the matter. It’s very helpful.
Best of all there are the golden nuggets of lived experiences from well-known Black British icons, writers and entrepreneurs. This book is EVERYTHING.
Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up is a vital resource and should be stocked not just in book shops but school and public libraries. In my opinion, it’s one for not just teens but parents and carers. I leave you with on my favourite quotes from Grown by Maya Angelou “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.”
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
About the Authors
Best friends Melissa Cummings-Quarry and Natalie A. Carter met at secondary school in North-East London and bonded over their shared love of books. Years later, Melissa, now a business development manager, and Natalie, a real estate lawyer, decided to channel that passion for reading and form the Black Girls’ Book Club, a literature and social events platform that celebrates literature by Black female writers. With everything they do, they intend to ensure that Black women have a seat at the table, Melissa and Natalie began to reflect on their own experiences growing up. One thing that became clear was the lack of media content in the UK created specifically for Black girls. Like the women who attended their events, young Black girls needed something that centred them, something that showed them they were seen. And so, Grown: The Black Girls’ Guide to Glowing Up was born.
You can pre-order Grown from Black Girls Book Club page on Book Shop dot Org. Publication day is 30th September, 2021.