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Sweetwater

Black Women and Narratives of Resilience, Revised Edition

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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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Foreword (H. L. (Bud) Goodall, Jr.)

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← xviii | xix →

 

  Foreword

H. L. (Bud) Goodall, Jr.

If you are a white middle-class suburban person, as I am, and you’ve spent time in the rural south, as I have, Sweetwater is one of many small African-American communities that you’ve driven through—usually by mistake—windows up, doors locked, eyes closed to everyone and everything in it, your only thought focused on how to find the quickest way back to the Interstate, to what is familiar and to what is understood.

To be fair about it, as a white middle-class suburban person you might also feel much the same general unease if you find yourself in a poor “white trash” neighborhood in the rural south (or rural anywhere), but chances are good that rednecks (I use the term in a strictly phenomenological sense)—even those toting loaded guns and driving pumped-up trucks with Confederate flags proudly displayed on them—don’t make you feel quite as vulnerable or nervous. If you are white, you can always look away. Go on about your business. Ask for directions back to the Interstate.

This is an America, imperfect. This is America as a big beautiful idea about equality that has yet to be fully realized. This is America, just as it is, imperfect yet dreaming, and the images of its imperfection—of our imperfection—are everywhere apparent.

This is a me imperfect as well. No matter how I position myself...

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