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Black Women and Narratives of Resilience, Revised Edition


Robin Boylorn

Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resilience is a multi-generational story of growing up black and female in the rural south. At times heartbreaking, at times humorous, Sweetwater captures the artistry, strength, language and creativity shared by first-hand accounts of black women in small-town North Carolina during the twentieth century. The book uncovers the versatility and universality of black women’s experiences and their exceptional capacity to love in the face of adversity, and hope in the midst of calamity. Sweetwater is about the black female experience as it relates to friendship, family, spirituality, poverty, education, addiction, mental illness, romantic relationships, and everyday survival. The merging themes show the resilience and resistance that black women exhibit while negotiating the intersecting oppressions of racism, classism, and sexism.

Written from field notes and memory, the author reveals the complexities of black women’s lived experiences by exposing the communicative and interpersonal choices black women make through storytelling. Narrative inquiry and black feminism are offered as creative educational tools for discussing how and why black women’s singular and interior lives are culturally and globally significant.

This revised edition preserves the original narratives but features new content including re-views, re-visions and re-considerations for re-writing autoethnography.

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Sweetwater Re/Vision(s): Author’s Response to Reviews


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  Sweetwater Re/Vision(s)

Author’s Response to Re/views

I made an effort, in this revised edition, to consider the feedback I have received, both in the form of book reviews and responses, class discussions, conversations with participants, and reconsiderations after teaching and re-reading the book. In this chapter, I take up the generous feedback from reviews of the first published version of Sweetwater, and respond to implied and direct questions in their essays. I react and respond to re/views of Sweetwater, considering the critiques and appreciation of the work as an opportunity to further imagine how Sweetwater topics and themes can be taken up in the classroom and the living room. I am interested and invested in the ways Sweetwater creates visibility and voice to (rural) black women while simultaneously offering a counternarrative for those who find similarities in the stories beyond race and gender. Accordingly, in addition to providing my personal responses (revisions) to reviews, I also put the re/views in conversation with each other, finding adequate answers to questions in the feedback of other scholars.

One of my biggest concerns about Sweetwater is linked to intentional choices I made about whose story I was going to tell. Sweetwater is intended to represent a group I felt was un(der)represented in scholarship. As a rural black woman, I wanted to create a text that would not only resonate with black women, but reflect the shared experiences of...

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