Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Zoboi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.
Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.
Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.
Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.
Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.
Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.
Warnings: mentions of slavery, rape culture, suicidal ideation, self-harm, on-page sexual assault
An anthology of young adult stories from Black American authors, Black Enough collects the different perspectives of living as a Black person, and tries to define and subvert what it means to be Black in today’s world. There are sweet stories, there are harsh stories, there are a couple of hilarious stories and there are a couple that make you feel cold. There is discussion of family, identity, culture, and social justice. The stories speak about the anxiety of being a person of color in ‘white spaces’ and racism faced externally, yes, but they also challenge colorism, class struggles, queer identities, and judgement from your own people.
…That I truly couldn’t remember the last time I’d been around more than a handful of other black people who weren’t my immediate family. That sometimes, because of that, I feel like a fraud within my own race.
Most of the stories were beautifully written, and challenged these topics from every aspect, like when Into the Starlight by Nic Stone talked about the hypocrisy of rich Black people, while Oreo by Brandy Colbert and Black Enough by Varian Johnson talk about it from the side of the one being judged unfairly just because they don’t subscribe to a particular image. In the book, we have Black nerds coming of age, as in Black Nerd Problems by Lamar Giles, a story which I particularly loved for the levity dropped in. There’s a coming-out story in the form of Justina Ireland’s Kissing Sarah Smart and a gay cowboys story in Jay Coles Wild Horses, Wild Hearts; the latter felt a bit open-ended, though. A couple of stories felt either generic (Girl Stop Playing), or didn’t seem to fit the them (Whoa!). There is also a long played-out sexual assault happening in Gravity by Tracey Baptiste, which goes into rape culture and the fear of seeming aggressive as a Black woman, in a matter of minutes.
Overall, it is an amazing collection of well-written stories that brings together these issues and discusses them in the context of living in America while being Black.
Is it diverse? Ownvoices Black stories, with some of them having queer (gay and bisexual) protagonists.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Balzer & Bray, via Edelweiss.
Amazon | The Book Depository | Wordery
Releases on January 8, 2019