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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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This book is the result of lived realities, good conversations, reminiscent reads, sleepless nights, provocative classes, disturbing memories, and realized dreams. I remember saying in prayer once, “God, if I can leave my mark in the world, let it be my voice.” This offering is my voice.

I am deeply grateful for the people in my life who have made me a better writer and person and, thus, made this project possible. I thank my mentor, H. L. (Bud) Goodall, Jr., for telling me my words should be in books and inspiring me to get them there. I am thankful for the possibilities he made possible by believing in, challenging, and affirming me—and most especially for urging me to write my blackgirl stories. His faith and love have proven immeasurable in my journey to becoming a writer. I dedicate this book, and everything I (will) write and accomplish to him, as an extension of his legacy. I will miss him forever!

I also thank my academic parents, Carolyn Ellis and Arthur Bochner, for walking me through my ambitions and for making room for me in their lives. I am grateful for the time spent sharing stories, listening, mentoring, drying tears, calming emotions, reassuring, handholding, holiday meals, walking the dogs, climbing mountains, winning (and losing) sports bets, editing, co-writing, thinking through, working through, writing through, and mostly for just believing in ← xxv | xxvi → me. Thank you for loving me through my insecurities. I love...

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