Title: More Than Enough, Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
Author: Elaine Welteroth
Publisher: Penguin Books
First Published: 2019
Length: 316 pages or ~ 10 hours audiobook
What a story!! This is a memoir-type book, about growing up Black in America. Elaine Welteroth is half Black, half German, and gives accounts of the many trials and tribulations she had to ordeal because of her brown skin. She hit the nail on the head. Many of the experiences she described are things to which most Black people in America can relate.
So many great examples:
-being “too” Black or not Black enough to fit in at school
-the Black Table in high school/college when you go to a predominantly White school
-expected to accept lower pay than your counterparts
-at any moment being disrespected by being called the n-word in plain conversation by a white person
-the everyday microagressions you are expected to politely excuse
-fighting to take your seat at the table where you belong
– society’s need to make you feel as though you must prove your worth, which in turn has been internalized
I won’t spoil the book, but it really is a great read. It addresses a lot of the subtle ways Black Women are excluded from the conversation. Maybe we aren’t invited to play golf with the executives or to the monthly lunches/dinners with the inner circle. The many ways Black women are expected to just Show UP and not get equally compensated. And not knowing how to play this game, how to ask for more, what to ask for, because our immediate circle may not hav been invited into this secret club and therefore couldn’t pass that information on to us.
Welteroth talks about how college kids may act wild and crazy, but she knew that if she got arrested for the exact same thing, her life would have a very different outcome. The book shares these tidbits of always having to live on edge and be more responsible than our counterparts, if we want to succeed; the systemic differences in resources that impacts our ability to fight these wrongs as well.
Welteroth addresses racial injustice at a national level, but also at a personal level. The “talk” Black parents have with their kids about how to act in a situation to come out alive: hands up, no sudden movements, yes sir/no sir, or smiling to constantly soothe any White Fragility. Hopefully the examples give non-Black people a glimpse into how exhausting it can be to be Black in America, especially a Black Woman.
This is also a motivational book. Even with all that we have to go through, Welteroth reminded us that we DO belong in the room, at the table, seated in a chair. It’s ok to take up space. We need to stop dimming our light because others feel inadequate. Shine, baby, shine! Ask for that promotion, ask for the corner office, demand what you deserve. Unfortunately, we aren’t living in a world where people notice your efforts and give you want you deserve; sometimes you have to be your own advocate. As scary as it is, sometimes there’s no other option.
I love this passage on the last page:
”When you find yourself existing in the spaces between dreams realized, parts of you will feel too big for where you are, while other parts of you will feel too small for where you’re going.
Do not wait.
Do not wonder if you can.
Do not ask for permission
When you get lost, it’s okay to stop, to look up, to look within for the answers – they’re always there.
And when the world tells you to shrink, expand.
You have done enough. You are enough! You were born enough.
The world is waiting on you.”
This book reminds us that it’s ok to try new things, even if you fail. And it’s also ok to succeed. We don’t need to feel bad for working hard and gaining power, even if people think you got there because of affirmative action, or to fill a quota, or because you were _____. It is not our daily job to prove our existence to people that had nothing to do with our Creation. This is no trivial statement. Black people are constantly required to prove that they belong, while the same is not true of a White person: walking at night in a hoodie, going for a run in our own neighborhood, taking out the trash past dark, walking into an expensive restaurant, getting accepted to a prestige school, changing a hairstyle, having an ethnic name on a resume, etc . . . And it’s EXHAUSTING. This is a good reminder that we don’t owe it to anyone to justify our credentials. This is an Ode to Being You and remembering to celebrate that, no matter what anyone else says.