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Carefree Black Girls

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Carefree Black Girls is an exploration and celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture, as well as the enduring stereotypes they face, from a film and culture critic for HuffPost. In 2013, Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term “carefreeblackgirls” on Twitter. It was, as she says, “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freed Carefree Black Girls is an exploration and celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture, as well as the enduring stereotypes they face, from a film and culture critic for HuffPost. In 2013, Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term “carefreeblackgirls” on Twitter. It was, as she says, “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freedom for black women online.” In this collection of essays, Blay expands on that initial idea by looking at the significance of influential black women throughout history, including Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Cardi B. Incorporating her own personal experiences as well as astute analysis of these famous women, Blay presents an empowering and celebratory portrait of black women and their effect on American culture. She also examines the many stereotypes that have clung to black women throughout history, whether it is the Mammy, the Angry Black Woman, or more recently, the Thot.


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Carefree Black Girls is an exploration and celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture, as well as the enduring stereotypes they face, from a film and culture critic for HuffPost. In 2013, Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term “carefreeblackgirls” on Twitter. It was, as she says, “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freed Carefree Black Girls is an exploration and celebration of black women’s identity and impact on pop culture, as well as the enduring stereotypes they face, from a film and culture critic for HuffPost. In 2013, Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term “carefreeblackgirls” on Twitter. It was, as she says, “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freedom for black women online.” In this collection of essays, Blay expands on that initial idea by looking at the significance of influential black women throughout history, including Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, and Cardi B. Incorporating her own personal experiences as well as astute analysis of these famous women, Blay presents an empowering and celebratory portrait of black women and their effect on American culture. She also examines the many stereotypes that have clung to black women throughout history, whether it is the Mammy, the Angry Black Woman, or more recently, the Thot.

30 review for Carefree Black Girls

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win! "To be truly free, we must choose beyond simply surviving adversity, we must dare to create lives of sustained optimal well being and joy." - bell hooks I got this book in the mail yesterday and I immediately started reading it. I didn't remember that this book was coming, so when I saw it I was so happy. Care-Free Black Girls is both a celebration of Black women and a critique of how Black women and our achievements are downplayed and ignored. Not all Black girls get to be "Care Fr Giveaway Win! "To be truly free, we must choose beyond simply surviving adversity, we must dare to create lives of sustained optimal well being and joy." - bell hooks I got this book in the mail yesterday and I immediately started reading it. I didn't remember that this book was coming, so when I saw it I was so happy. Care-Free Black Girls is both a celebration of Black women and a critique of how Black women and our achievements are downplayed and ignored. Not all Black girls get to be "Care Free", the Black girls who most often get to be "Care Free" are thin, light skinnt, with long curly hair. Dark Black girls do not get to be considered "Care Free". Fat Black girls do not get to be considered "Care Free". Black girls with 4c hair do not get to be considered "Care Free". Gay, Trans and Nonbinary Femmes do not get to be considered "Care Free". Zeba Blay is such a breath of fresh air. Zeba holds nothing back. She describes her major depressive episodes including her thoughts of suicide and her 2 attempts at ending her life. Zeba balances her PTSD with her continuing journey to find happiness. Her writing is both easy to read and layered with impactful insights. If you couldn't already tell I loved this book! I love this beautiful Black woman! It's so hard to be a Black woman in a society that loves to steal your culture and never acknowledge your humanity. It's so hard to be a Black woman in a society that makes it clear on a daily basis that it doesn't care if you live or die. But somehow we as Black women, straight, lesbian, bisexual, trans and nonbinary still manage to find joy. Black Joy is revolutionary and its dangerous and that's why we must continue to live it. I recommend this to my fellow Black women. We need this. A Must Read!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    OMG this looks so good

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    "How do Black girls find freedom? Where do they go to find it, to feel it, uncomplicated and uncompromised?" Carefree Black Girls is a collection of writer Zeba Blay's musings on the #carefreeblackgirls we identify with in society and pop culture. If artists like Lizzo, Cardi B., and Nicki Minaj come to mind, you are in luck, as they all make appearances in these essays. Blay writes with so much insight and introspection that I could not help but to lean in and nod repeatedly as she spoke about f "How do Black girls find freedom? Where do they go to find it, to feel it, uncomplicated and uncompromised?" Carefree Black Girls is a collection of writer Zeba Blay's musings on the #carefreeblackgirls we identify with in society and pop culture. If artists like Lizzo, Cardi B., and Nicki Minaj come to mind, you are in luck, as they all make appearances in these essays. Blay writes with so much insight and introspection that I could not help but to lean in and nod repeatedly as she spoke about feelings I've had about my own body and life. The essay "Girlhood" could have easily been written for me, with my obsession with the Spice Girls (particularly Scary Spice) in middle school and my unrequited crushes on guys that would never really "go" for my type. It was cathartic reading Blay's experiences in this book, as they mirrored quite a few of mine-- giving me the language to articulate thoughts I couldn't quite form before. This was a great collection of essays that brought up so many points I can't wait to discuss with my good girlfriends. I'll be sharing more thoughts once we get closer to the publication date. Thank you, Zeba Blay, for keeping these necessary conversations going. Special thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the eARC!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    I mean.....Wow! This book right here!!!! Lawd READ IT!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amethyst

    Culture critic, Zeba Blay was the first person to tweet #carefreeblackgirl back in 2013. Carefree Black Girls is a book of her essays about Black women’s impact on pop culture and “what it means to be a Black woman and truly be ‘carefree.’” She describes this book as “an offering” and not “a history, an explainer, a guide, or a map to Blackness”. It is a is a celebration of Black women and our full and complex humanity. Blay looks at how Black women, from Josephine Baker to Breonna Taylor, have Culture critic, Zeba Blay was the first person to tweet #carefreeblackgirl back in 2013. Carefree Black Girls is a book of her essays about Black women’s impact on pop culture and “what it means to be a Black woman and truly be ‘carefree.’” She describes this book as “an offering” and not “a history, an explainer, a guide, or a map to Blackness”. It is a is a celebration of Black women and our full and complex humanity. Blay looks at how Black women, from Josephine Baker to Breonna Taylor, have been represented in pop culture; how affirming it feels to see yourself represented in media; and how representation alone will not liberate us. Like Blay, “I'm reaching out for a world where we value not just the representations of Black women but Black women themselves.” Thinking about who gets to be a “carefree Black girl”, this looks at body types, colorism, sexuality, girlhood, and mental health (CW: Suicide attempts, transphobia, disordered eating). This is a book I can see myself returning to, to see if and how we have progressed as a society. I’m thankful to Zeba Blay, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review an uncorrected digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    The CurvyJones

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’m a tad surprised I’m rating this four stars as it wasn’t the most amazing book I’ve ever read. It was however well written and heartfelt, so mission accomplished. I don’t so much hate pop culture… I just don’t follow it. So entire chapters based on the antics of Lizzo, Cardi and Nicky were not the reading I was expecting. The audience of this book is clearly younger. Thankfully there’s always something I can glean.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    It took me longer than usual to read this book, but that was intentional on my part. This is an experience that is not mine, and I wanted to fully absorb everything that Zeba Blay explained. I thought that using pop culture and her own experience to showcase the ways in which white surpremacy, misogyny, and racism have filtered into society and affected the way that Black women are viewed was fantastic. It made each topic immediately accessible by showing examples that we are all very familiar w It took me longer than usual to read this book, but that was intentional on my part. This is an experience that is not mine, and I wanted to fully absorb everything that Zeba Blay explained. I thought that using pop culture and her own experience to showcase the ways in which white surpremacy, misogyny, and racism have filtered into society and affected the way that Black women are viewed was fantastic. It made each topic immediately accessible by showing examples that we are all very familiar with, and her vulnerability in sharing her own experiences is heart-breaking to read. I would love to read anything else that Blay writes and am now determined to find some of her articles.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    This is a beautiful collection of essays that explore the images and depictions of black women and girls throughout our culture. This book tackles subjects like racism, colorism, fat phobia, mental health, sexuality, and what it truly means to be a carefree black girl or if this is even possible. The author also includes her own personal thoughts and experiences and how they relate to these subjects. This book is not groundbreaking; these subjects have been explored before. But it is extremely h This is a beautiful collection of essays that explore the images and depictions of black women and girls throughout our culture. This book tackles subjects like racism, colorism, fat phobia, mental health, sexuality, and what it truly means to be a carefree black girl or if this is even possible. The author also includes her own personal thoughts and experiences and how they relate to these subjects. This book is not groundbreaking; these subjects have been explored before. But it is extremely honest. I saw a lot of my own experiences reflected in Blay’s. I’m sure that I won’t be the only one. This was moving, timely, and poignant. I loved it from the beginning to the end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Zeba Blay is now on my list of favorite writers, and I feel like I was given a true window into the lives of Black women from the depths of her soul. This title has the potential to be a favorite of the year for me, and is definitely near the top of the list for most important works for all the ways Blay calls out the work that is still needed to address the inequities, specifically those of intersectionality experienced by Black women in her insightful essays. Part pop culture critique, part me Zeba Blay is now on my list of favorite writers, and I feel like I was given a true window into the lives of Black women from the depths of her soul. This title has the potential to be a favorite of the year for me, and is definitely near the top of the list for most important works for all the ways Blay calls out the work that is still needed to address the inequities, specifically those of intersectionality experienced by Black women in her insightful essays. Part pop culture critique, part memoir, 100% experiences and reflections of being a Black woman, and moving through both Black and majority society. It's brutal, but also not new. Blay's writing is amazing, her essays are well-considered, moving, and unreserved in the best way. I want to spend hours searching for Blay's articles now to soak up more of her voice and her message because it's powerful and long over due. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own, as will be the physical copy I pre-ordered with my own cash money because I want to put this important book in the hands of other readers!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Verity O'Connell

    Perfection!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Thomas

    Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay 9781250231567 256 Pages Publisher: St. Martin’s Press / St. Martin’s Griffin Release Date: October 19, 2021 Nonfiction, Multicultural Interest The book is divided into the following essays. Bodies She’s a Freak Man, This Shit is Draining Extra Black #Cardibissoproblematic Girlhood Strong Black Lead Free of Cares The author does a wonderful job delving into different aspects that affect women. From body image issues to sexual assault and racism. She mentions Nicki Manaj, Cardi Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay 9781250231567 256 Pages Publisher: St. Martin’s Press / St. Martin’s Griffin Release Date: October 19, 2021 Nonfiction, Multicultural Interest The book is divided into the following essays. Bodies She’s a Freak Man, This Shit is Draining Extra Black #Cardibissoproblematic Girlhood Strong Black Lead Free of Cares The author does a wonderful job delving into different aspects that affect women. From body image issues to sexual assault and racism. She mentions Nicki Manaj, Cardi B, Josephine Baker, Breonna Taylor, Viola Davis, and Kerry Washington. The stories are well written and very engaging. I read the whole book in one sitting. Some of the stories, however, are difficult to read and the author lists a warning in the introduction section. This is an excellent book for anyone to read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    agata

    In 2013, the book’s author, Zeba Blay, was the first person to use the hashtag carefreeblackgirls. Its meaning was to show a different portrait of Black women than what we’re used to seeing in pop culture - it aimed to show them being joyous, free, individualistic. This collection of essays is about how we, as a society, try to define and stereotype Black women and how those portrayals impact them. It’s also about how Black women fight against it, about their power to rally against the constrain In 2013, the book’s author, Zeba Blay, was the first person to use the hashtag carefreeblackgirls. Its meaning was to show a different portrait of Black women than what we’re used to seeing in pop culture - it aimed to show them being joyous, free, individualistic. This collection of essays is about how we, as a society, try to define and stereotype Black women and how those portrayals impact them. It’s also about how Black women fight against it, about their power to rally against the constraints put upon them and their freedom to define themselves. Carefree Black Girls is an important and eye-opening book, extremely relevant to today’s world and everyone who consumes any type of media. The essays, while focused on pop culture and celebrities, are also incredibly personal, with Blay openly writing about her own experiences and struggles. There are eight essays in total, ranging in themes from colorism, racism, police brutality and memefication of Black women to fatphobia and mental health. The themes are heavy and complex, but Blay’s writing style makes the essays easy to understand and learn from. The popularity of the women she discusses (to name a few: Lizzo, Cardi B, Viola Davis) helps to illustrate the points she makes. Carefree Black Girls is an amazing collection, not only an educational read but also the kind of celebration of Black women and girls that we so rarely see in popular media.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

    A hell of a collection that truly spoke to my soul as a Black girl who’s never felt carefree but would like to in whatever form I can grasp. Every single essay in this collection was phenomenal! Blay managed to convey her love for pop culture while also not being shy about calling it out. She touches on cancel culture, racism, colorism, representation, and what makes something/someone problematic, but she doesn't just preach about them. She provides suggestions on how we can engage with problemat A hell of a collection that truly spoke to my soul as a Black girl who’s never felt carefree but would like to in whatever form I can grasp. Every single essay in this collection was phenomenal! Blay managed to convey her love for pop culture while also not being shy about calling it out. She touches on cancel culture, racism, colorism, representation, and what makes something/someone problematic, but she doesn't just preach about them. She provides suggestions on how we can engage with problematic things and how we need to allow people the grace to change and grow. Blay doesn't have all the answers, and she doesn't pretend to, and we see her working through some of the setbacks of popular culture and how they've made a mark on her personal life. She's not afraid of critiquing her faves, and that's something that we all need to be comfortable doing, with nuance. I love how Black women were the focal point of every essay. Black women's contributions to pop culture are anything but small, and Blay makes sure to highlight that while also critiquing the many ways in which Black women have been failed by popular culture. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, and Zeba Blay is definitely on my radar now!

  14. 4 out of 5

    ReadnliftwithShar

    Carefree Black Girls was a good read for me. I didn’t know what to expect from the author but she gave her all. I expected some feminist moments and the day to day struggles of black women. I didn’t expect so many intimate details of the authors struggles. She spoke transparently about her hardships and her mental health. I felt the author was courageous. There was a lot of emphasis on women in entertainment- some good but I felt there was so much detail surrounding certain topics. Overall, I th Carefree Black Girls was a good read for me. I didn’t know what to expect from the author but she gave her all. I expected some feminist moments and the day to day struggles of black women. I didn’t expect so many intimate details of the authors struggles. She spoke transparently about her hardships and her mental health. I felt the author was courageous. There was a lot of emphasis on women in entertainment- some good but I felt there was so much detail surrounding certain topics. Overall, I think this is a good easy read. I think the author did a great job. I am looking forward to more work from the author. I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carianne Carleo-Evangelist

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, which I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Blay is credited for coining #carefreeblackgirls, but this book is about so much more than a hashtag. Part essays on iconic Black women and how society both venerates and invalidates them, part the author's own thoughts, this book tells a fascinating narrative of the intersectionality between Black women and pop culture in the latter half of the 2010s and the issues that were hot button I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, which I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Blay is credited for coining #carefreeblackgirls, but this book is about so much more than a hashtag. Part essays on iconic Black women and how society both venerates and invalidates them, part the author's own thoughts, this book tells a fascinating narrative of the intersectionality between Black women and pop culture in the latter half of the 2010s and the issues that were hot button topics: sexual harassment and assault, racism, sexism. While I'm not familiar with all of the women's work, their impact on society cannot be questioned. I almost wish I could delay this review as I see it as a book I will return to over time and imagine I'll find new thoughts each time. Excellent primer, and I wished some essays were longer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nelda

    This story is an opportunity to explore the mind of a Black Woman with emphasis on the components that hinder/alter/shape the ability to be truly Carefree in America. I truly loved her comparison to PTSD as that truly summarized my thoughts on the matter. Likewise, this book defends itself and others like it in such a beautiful way by offering words that may help share the unexplainable. Thank you #Netgalley for the advanced copy. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. Al This story is an opportunity to explore the mind of a Black Woman with emphasis on the components that hinder/alter/shape the ability to be truly Carefree in America. I truly loved her comparison to PTSD as that truly summarized my thoughts on the matter. Likewise, this book defends itself and others like it in such a beautiful way by offering words that may help share the unexplainable. Thank you #Netgalley for the advanced copy. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dysha Cole

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and appreciated the vulnerability in each essay. I really hope some of the chapters are integrated into Women’s Gender & Sexuality courses offered at various universities.

  18. 5 out of 5

    J Earl

    Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay is a collection of powerful essays that move from popular culture to history and from the public to the personal. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading. The subtitle, A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture led me to think I might be reading about several celebrities and their impacts on their field of art and on society as a whole. I was wrong, or at least partially wrong. This is less a critique or overview of Black women in popular cultu Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay is a collection of powerful essays that move from popular culture to history and from the public to the personal. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading. The subtitle, A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture led me to think I might be reading about several celebrities and their impacts on their field of art and on society as a whole. I was wrong, or at least partially wrong. This is less a critique or overview of Black women in popular culture than it is a critique of the society and the various industries (music, film, TV mostly) that impose limitations and how at the various periods Black women have pushed against those limitations. Ultimately, it is a personal journey using popular culture as a springboard to discuss white supremacy, misogyny, and the many ways these are supported by presentations of Black women. It is also very much about these women taking more control and putting more images and messages out there that support each other rather than white supremacy. While I am not the target readership, there is much an old mostly white man can learn here. This book is not meant to educate people like me, but that doesn't mean I can't learn a lot. In other words, the task is mine to actively learn, understand as best I can, and decide what actions I can take to make this a better world. The sharing that Blay offers serves as a catalyst for my improvement, not a textbook to simply learn a perspective. I would highly recommend this to anyone who knows that this society and culture is based on white supremacy but might not know the many subtle ways that popular culture can enforce it. And, importantly, how it can offer alternatives to it. I almost forgot to mention an aspect of the book that really is appealing to me. The references section includes the articles, songs, names, etc that Blay mentions in the book. With so much material being readily available online, this is a treasure trove of interesting material which, coupled with Blay's commentary in the body of the book, makes for some wonderful deeper exploration of the topics and issues. Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    What does it mean to be a care free Black girl? How does one achieve a care free life? Is it even possible? This book explores these questions and more through pop culture and the author's life experience. This book is a series of essays celebrating and dissecting Black media, the role it plays in the world and how it impacts Black women and femmes. Blay has been writing about pop culture for years, and she certainly knows what she's talking about. Her essays explore some of the history of Black What does it mean to be a care free Black girl? How does one achieve a care free life? Is it even possible? This book explores these questions and more through pop culture and the author's life experience. This book is a series of essays celebrating and dissecting Black media, the role it plays in the world and how it impacts Black women and femmes. Blay has been writing about pop culture for years, and she certainly knows what she's talking about. Her essays explore some of the history of Black pop culture as well as the personal impact it has made on herself and others. While it explores this in a collective sense, there is also so much that's personal to Blay. She's incredibly open and honest about her experiences, so that element did make it seem a bit like a memoir (which I really enjoyed). Blay has a lot of passion for these subjects, and there's so much heart in each of these essays. I'm grateful to have read this book. I love reading from different perspectives, and this book certainly offered a lot of insight into a culture I'm not necessarily a part of, but I certainly appreciate. Thank you, NetGalley, for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Thought-provoking, candid, and vulnerable - this is a great collection of essays that explores what it means for a Black woman to experience true freedom. I love how the author uses pop culture icons and moments to complement her personal stories and to illustrate her ideas. I'm an old head, yet I found her examples crossed generations so her essays were accessible and engaging. I highly recommend! Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for the complimentary copy! Thought-provoking, candid, and vulnerable - this is a great collection of essays that explores what it means for a Black woman to experience true freedom. I love how the author uses pop culture icons and moments to complement her personal stories and to illustrate her ideas. I'm an old head, yet I found her examples crossed generations so her essays were accessible and engaging. I highly recommend! Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for the complimentary copy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Schwartz

    This is such a thoughtful and insightful book that interweaves the author’s own experience with analysis of pop culture’s depictions of Black women. She dives deep into the complexities of how Black female bodies are analyzed and scorned, how their feelings of anger are turned against them by society, and the ways in which Black women can push back against these forces hurt them. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review This is such a thoughtful and insightful book that interweaves the author’s own experience with analysis of pop culture’s depictions of Black women. She dives deep into the complexities of how Black female bodies are analyzed and scorned, how their feelings of anger are turned against them by society, and the ways in which Black women can push back against these forces hurt them. I couldn’t put it down. Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin for the arc of this book. I am trying to read more nonfiction and I'm glad I picked this one! The essay format made it easy to take a break and think about what I learned. And yes, there was a lot of food for thought in this book, so many things I have had the privilege of not thinking about before. Thank you Zeba Blay for opening my eyes to a more critical way of looking at what the media feeds us, and exposing some of my own bias Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Griffin for the arc of this book. I am trying to read more nonfiction and I'm glad I picked this one! The essay format made it easy to take a break and think about what I learned. And yes, there was a lot of food for thought in this book, so many things I have had the privilege of not thinking about before. Thank you Zeba Blay for opening my eyes to a more critical way of looking at what the media feeds us, and exposing some of my own biases.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shareca

    I rarely read nonfiction, but I always love to read these! What a great and enjoyable set of essays. I think this is one of the better ones to come out. Carefree Black Girls by Zeba Blay is a must-read/add.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia-Marah

    The book, Carefree Black Girls by film, TV and culture critic Zeba Blay was excellent! Through a series of essays, Blay speaks about the Black women in pop culture that have informed, challenged, and inspired her perspective on what it means to be a Black woman in America. Blay writes from the perspective of a dark-skinned Black woman, but also from the perspective of an immigrant about the representations of Black womanhood and girlhood we see and don’t see in pop culture with an insightful, no The book, Carefree Black Girls by film, TV and culture critic Zeba Blay was excellent! Through a series of essays, Blay speaks about the Black women in pop culture that have informed, challenged, and inspired her perspective on what it means to be a Black woman in America. Blay writes from the perspective of a dark-skinned Black woman, but also from the perspective of an immigrant about the representations of Black womanhood and girlhood we see and don’t see in pop culture with an insightful, no bullshit, vulnerability I respect. Her honesty about her own struggles with mental health, and the effect racism has on Black Americans as patients in our healthcare system, is an issue that needs to be addressed, and Blay contributed to this conversation in Carefree Black Girls. Blay also speaks to the direct correlation between colorism and self-confidence, showing how until very recently most successful Black female celebrities have been light-skinned. Blay talks about growing up, not seeing herself represented in television or films, and how if there were dark-skinned women in films and television, they were rarely the star, almost never the romantic interest and often the comedic relief. These representations affect the girls who grow up not seeing themselves represented as important and central to the story. To girls who don't see themselves represented as a sexy star, but instead as the funny sidekick. As a woman, I related to the points Blay makes about the rampant misogyny of our culture; the way women are objectified, sexualized and how they are slut-shamed if they have the audacity to financially benefit from their objectification and sexualization. Blay illustrates how fraught and complex women’s feelings and thoughts about the concepts of beauty, sexuality, and identity are. Much of the struggles she speaks of are universal struggles women experience in a patriarchal society, but the intersection of sexism and racism amplifies these barriers and struggles for Black women. Blay expertly reveals the ways sexism and racism still limit, constrict, and affect the lives of women of color, even celebrities. While much of the subject matter in Blay’s essays is heavy, dealing with mental health, suicidal ideation and the painful realities of racism in America, her writing is effervescent, witty, and entertaining. Blay strikes the perfect balance between journalistic writing, offering facts and statistics to support her arguments, and memoir, using personal experiences to illustrate her points. Being a culture critic, Blay always brings the discussion back to the lives of the Black cultural icons, who informed and challenged her perspective on Black womanhood and identity. In this series of essays, Blay makes poignant and persuasive arguments about the cultural significance of Black women in America, and the myriad contributions they have made to our society. Essentially, Blay asks if Black women can ever truly be carefree in a society where they don’t experience true freedom. Her writing is sharp, emotionally nuanced and eloquent. I really enjoyed Zeba Blay’s Carefree Black Girls! I’m so grateful St. Martin’s Griffen sent me an advanced copy to read and review. If this book review has piqued your curiosity, you can pick up a copy from your favorite local bookseller.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Zeba Blay is film and pop culture critic who has contributed to many publications. She should be lauded for breaking into the film critic industry which is 77% white male. Surprising, when the films are not watched by a 77% white male audience. Let's put that aside for now. The book is advertised as an "exploration and celebration of Black Women's identity and impact on pop culture, as well as enduring stereotypes they face..." It is this but it is also a collection of very personal insights in Zeba Blay is film and pop culture critic who has contributed to many publications. She should be lauded for breaking into the film critic industry which is 77% white male. Surprising, when the films are not watched by a 77% white male audience. Let's put that aside for now. The book is advertised as an "exploration and celebration of Black Women's identity and impact on pop culture, as well as enduring stereotypes they face..." It is this but it is also a collection of very personal insights into the effects of those stereotypes on Zeba Blay and her mental health particularly. She expounds intimately on her mental health and also on current events, political and otherwise and their affects.The history of black women stereotypes throughout film, music and pop culture is in itself an informative ,fact-based and enlightening read. Throughout the book, I learned that I was not as aware as I should have been of how it impacted the emotional welfare and development of a black girl or woman. Even believing myself empathetic and sympathetic to their hardships I discovered that my empathy only scratched the surface of their emotions. "Black women , walk through the world with a kind of careful intentionality of one who walks on glass, acutely aware of the confinements of their existence in ways that others do not have to be. "- think about that .As hard as one tries, one cannot always imagine what it is like to live in someone else's body and handle the day to day injustices, fears, and even invisibility. "Even Black death is commodified. And this commodification, this meme-fication, always turns Black death into a theoretical problem. an abstraction, rather than something real and true that reverberates through lives." The problem is the constant specter of white violence and its consequences, the reality of it , the fact that [ Black women} are made to feel crazy, the fact that they must fight to exist as white violence continues to exist and nobody seems to care." Who can feel free under these conditions? Joy, freedom, opportunity, peace should not only be available to a finite group of people. Blay likens these fears to be similar to PTSD, affecting every aspect of a Black woman's life, her choices, Where is the empathy ? I am glad that I read these essays and will hope that it becomes a popular read in ALL circles. Zeba Blay writes" I'm reaching out for a world where we value not just the representations of Black women but Black Women themselves." A book for all of us to read and digest. A wonderful book for Women's Studies, Film Studies, Black Studies, Book Clubs. There is so much here to discuss from so many perspectives. I leave you with just one more quote:Professor Barbara Fields, a Black women who is an expert on the Civil War, states " If there was a single event that caused the war, it was the establishment of the United States in independence from Great Britain with slavery still a part of its heritage."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane Adams

    Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the Uncorrected Digital Galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Like many non-Black individuals, I have spent some time in recent years trying to read books that would further my multicultural education. This book looked like a promising candidate, and the title and subtitle suggested that it might be light and fun as well. Not to say that it was not fun, but parts were definitely not as light as I sort of expected—and I quickly lear Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the Uncorrected Digital Galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. Like many non-Black individuals, I have spent some time in recent years trying to read books that would further my multicultural education. This book looked like a promising candidate, and the title and subtitle suggested that it might be light and fun as well. Not to say that it was not fun, but parts were definitely not as light as I sort of expected—and I quickly learned how little I understand of the Black experience. To be fair, I was fully aware of how little I knew about rap culture, and a significant portion of the “girls” represented here were part of the rap world. While I recognized many of the names, I was unable to really understand the references. I appreciated the essays that spoke about movie and television actresses more, because I had at least experienced their work. I related most to talk about body image—as a half-Asian woman, my experience has obviously been different from the author’s, but as a woman, I could empathize, especially when the theme was weight. I think what I appreciated reading the most was the references to white supremacy. I had always imagined white supremacy as something like the KKK. Before reading this book, I didn’t totally get my friend’s protest sign that read “white supremacy is terrorism”. Because I imagined it as something big and obvious, and not insidious, like the microaggressions that people of color regularly experience in everyday life. How did I feel about this book? It was hard to read. Sometimes it was as though I were reading another language. But it’s a language I need to learn in order to understand. And some of the topics were certainly difficult. But we all need to be aware of both current and historic injustice in order to not only empathize but to fight future injustice. Care Free Girls gave me a lot to think about. I don’t really feel qualified to critique it, but I hope people read it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Sanchez

    A little backs story, Zeba Blay in 2013 first coined the term #carefreeblackgirls on Twitter. She explains in this book that the hashtag was a way to carve out space for black girls online. “Care Free Black Girls” is an essay collection of Blay’s thoughts and feelings on the work and achievements of Black women in the media – from Josephine Baker to Cardi B. She celebrates the strengths of Black women while also examining the stereotypes and identities that have clung to them. Zeba Blay shares he A little backs story, Zeba Blay in 2013 first coined the term #carefreeblackgirls on Twitter. She explains in this book that the hashtag was a way to carve out space for black girls online. “Care Free Black Girls” is an essay collection of Blay’s thoughts and feelings on the work and achievements of Black women in the media – from Josephine Baker to Cardi B. She celebrates the strengths of Black women while also examining the stereotypes and identities that have clung to them. Zeba Blay shares her personal experience with mental illness, suicide, racial violence, sexual abuse, body dysmorphia, and many more triggering materials. I was utterly saddened by her experiences, it's troubling that she is not the only one who experiences these feelings. Zeba Blay is also encouraging and inspiring, Blay expresses her hope for a better world for Black women. I especially loved when Blay talks about representation, she explains that being “seen” is not the same as being understood. You can “see” someone as still misunderstand them; this is especially the case with Black women today. Society constantly sees Black women in the media and puts them in a box to fit a pretty little stereotype of their choosing. Blay calls to action a new phenomenon called the “Carefree Black Girl gaze”, where society sees Black girls in pop culture for what they are instead of relying on tropes and stereotypes, for Black women to be free of labels. I don’t rate memoirs or autobiographies because of the simple fact that it is Zeba Blay’s life, she is allowing us a window into her thoughts and her deeply personal feelings and I think that’s unratable. It just is. It’s Zeba Blay. And I recommend this book to EVERYONE! Thank you St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nurai

    I love essays about pop culture, especially when they comment on the way pop culture reflects larger systems in our society. Zeba Blay is excellent at this, interweaving pop culture with the issues that white supremacy and racism and misogyny have eroded in our society. Each essay stands on its own, but they also form a coherent narrative — each essay discusses different Black woman stereotypes, using instances or prominent figures in pop culture (women such as Lizzo, Cardi B, Serena Williams) t I love essays about pop culture, especially when they comment on the way pop culture reflects larger systems in our society. Zeba Blay is excellent at this, interweaving pop culture with the issues that white supremacy and racism and misogyny have eroded in our society. Each essay stands on its own, but they also form a coherent narrative — each essay discusses different Black woman stereotypes, using instances or prominent figures in pop culture (women such as Lizzo, Cardi B, Serena Williams) to dismantle the stereotype and examine the harm these stereotypes do to Black women by reducing and forcing them into certain characteristics. Essays I particularly loved were “She’s A Freak”, where she discusses the contrasting stereotypes of Black women as simultaneously overtly sexual and “easy”, and at the same time having no desire at all; “Man, This Shit is Draining”, talking about the ‘Angry Black Woman’, discussing how Black women have so many legitimate reasons to be angry but they are immediately discredited, ridiculed or portrayed as aggressive when they express even a little of it, using examples of Maxine Waters and Serena Williams at the U.S. Open; “Strong Black Lead”, examining the problematic “strong Black woman” stereotype, how it creates the idea that Black women were in some way made to deal with all the traumatic hardships they have to face, while at the same time denying them the space to feel anything but strong. Every essay explores topics I was familiar with, but I got something out of every one - Blay’s writing and perspective is very nuanced and careful, if not carefree.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Culture critic Blay describes this book as “an offering” and not “a history, an explainer, a guide, or a map to Blackness." It is certainly that. It does not offer answers - perhaps there are none, or at least none that are easy. This book is heavier than the title might indicate, but is also fully and gloriously a celebration of Black women and femmes in all of their complexity, in all of their nuance. By looking at the treatment by society of several celebrated and popular Black women, like Li Culture critic Blay describes this book as “an offering” and not “a history, an explainer, a guide, or a map to Blackness." It is certainly that. It does not offer answers - perhaps there are none, or at least none that are easy. This book is heavier than the title might indicate, but is also fully and gloriously a celebration of Black women and femmes in all of their complexity, in all of their nuance. By looking at the treatment by society of several celebrated and popular Black women, like Lizzo and Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion and Serena Williams, Blay discusses unfortunately endlessly relevant topics. She looks at the expectation that Black women's sexuality exists in a binary state: Jezebel or sexlessness, with the common thread being that those Black women don't get to control on which side they fall, or really get to define a state outside of that binary. Blay discusses Lizzo not really getting to have ownership or autonomy of her body without criticism, and the implications that has about fatphobia and especially the fatphobia and expectations that are pressed upon fat Black women. The myth of the "angry Black women," colorism, authenticity and the expectations of celebrity, about representation being important but not enough, and whether it's possible to be a carefree Black girl are all topics that are explored. The writing is poignant and often raw, with a vulnerability that is affecting. It is contemplative and seeking, and a book that I will return to and revisit often. Content warnings (included in the front author's note<3 ): mental illness, suicide, racial violence, transphobia, sexual abuse, disordered eating, body dysmorphia

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