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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 15


The day after Thanksgiving, a man I didn’t recognize knocked on the door and let himself in. Aunt Peaches and Twiggy greeted him like he was someone they used to know, but didn’t anymore. They spoke and smiled, but didn’t touch. The man’s voice was husky and old, his rounded teeth the color of parchment paper. He did not look like anybody I knew.

“This must be Bread’s child,” he decided, leaning back into the raggedy recliner chair and then sitting up, when he realized it didn’t recline anymore.

“She can talk,” Peaches said.

“What’s your name?” he asked.


“Bird, huh?” He seemed to be considering whether or not my answer was a lie. “How old are you?”


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