*This is a book review of This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope by Shayla Lawson
“The appropriation of Black social creativity without proper attribution… is rampant, and carries a foreboding irony.”– Shayla Lawson
Author: Shayla Lawson
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Genre: Social Sciences, Autobiography (I guess…)
Number of Pages: 336
SJ Rating: 98%
Through essays and anecdotes and many pop culture references, Shayla Lawson takes you on a deep dive through the reality and beauty of being a Black woman.
Shayla (Ms. Lawson, Ms. Powerful with her Words?) starts the book off with this Toni Morrison quote: “Racists always try to make you think they are the majority, but they never are.” As soon as I read that, I was sold.
Hook. Line. And sinker… or however the quote goes.
In one sentence, she beautifully explains one of the fights Black women have to endure when she says “As kids, we learn we are lesser people only to spend the rest of our lives unlearning it.”
She educates you in a very endearing, fun way without sounding incredibly boring or historical. Furthermore, she introduces you (well, at least me) to a world of people, like Joy Buolamwini and Lilian-Yvonne Bertram. I was googling people left and right.
The way she explains white supremacy is so spot on and incredible; I have to share. She says, “When we associate ‘white supremacy’ only with extremism we miss the point.” CORRECT! Furthermore, “White supremacy, the belief in white migration and white ideologies– and the very existence of ‘whiteness’– as the benchmark for greatness is the majority narrative…”
Something else I truly love about Shayla’s writing, besides her ability to beautifully educate, is her incorporation of pop culture references, like the staple TV show Black-ish, which she perfectly explains the entire concept of: “based on the presupposition that the family’s wealth and social privilege are at odds with their blackness in an America where these things cannot coexist.”
– Told the story behind that infamous Kim Kardashian Paper magazine cover, which is still beyond infuriating
– Completely attacks “Freaky Friday” by Lil Dicky ft. Chris Brown, and I’m here for it!
– Completely disses Usher, which I appreciate. Yes, I am not a fan of Usher.
– Beautiful and hilarious explanation of The Princess and the Frog
– “The trends [referring to #BlackGirlMagic] mirror what seems to be the larger tendency regarding black girl aesthetics and triumphs: the world wants everything we have to offer, except us. It is not that Black Girl Magic isn’t real, it is that it doesn’t set us free.”
Plus, she dedicates an entire chapter to explaining Black Twitter, which she calls “the place where Twitter goes to have a social life.” LOVED IT.
Among the many things to love about Shayla’s work, she takes her time to tackle beauty standards initiated into society by white men.
And all of this is just the beginning.
Racists and cultural appropriators (nothing to do with the book but still…)
This book is for all current generations, including the Boomers, and I believe that with all my heart. Anyone and everyone who has the ability to read should read this book. It truly explores and explains what it means to be black, in all facets, especially a black woman.
Shayla Lawson is so brutally honest and blunt, and if you’re not tired of me saying this yet, I love it!!
When I read the final chapter of the book, I had the biggest smile on my face, and though this book really challenges you and expands your mind, I’m sure you’ll have a smile on your face too.
Next book to be read and reviewed: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi
“Of course, the history of America is nothing if not the stories of the bones of dark people buried beneath a gentrified landscape…”– Shayla Lawson