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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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Chapter 6


“Sho’ is hot out here.” Doughboy, Little’s friend from the Bottom, was fanning himself with his hands and sweating like a hooker in church. Doughboy was waiting for Little, who had run in the house to get something, while Bread watched him from the wood plank that led to the backdoor. Doughboy was more stomach than anything else and the only young person Bread knew of that wore glasses. He couldn’t see a lick without them.

“Sho’ is!” Little said, opening and slamming the door fast, trying not to let the hot air in or the cool air out.

“Ray-Ray Carmichael on his way over here to meet us,” Doughboy announced.

“Sho’ is!” Little repeated.

“No, he ain’t.” Bread hadn’t seen Ray-Ray since she had been to church revival a month earlier, and didn’t expect to see him again unless she went with Cake to church, which she felt less inclined to do as the days went on. The hotter it was the more lazy she felt.

“Yes he is and we’s going swimming wit him.” Little seemed proud of himself, his permanent teeth crowding in his mouth like broken crayons in the original box.

“Y’all fools can’t swim,” Bread said, swatting flies and waving to a car that was driving slow on the dirt road. ← 61 | 62 →

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