I have been reading The Black Girl Next Door by Jennifer Baszile on my treamdill and finished it up this morning. It is always so sad to see a great memoir come to a close. Especially when I am not really sure how things ended up. Baszile's memoir takes us up until she leaves for college in the late 80s. While her quest for identity as a black woman may have reached some closure by that point, I want to know more about her. How were her college years? Was Columbia everything she wanted? Was it easier to fit in there? What about her dating and romantic life?
Baszile was a young black girl in California in the 1970s. Her parents had overcome the discrimination they encountered during their childhood in the South and moved to California where they were both successful in their careers. Jennifer and her sister Natalie were smart, attractive, and also the only black children in their school. While they had friends, Jennifer never felt as though she truly fit in. Her parents wealth could not always fix their problems - when they moved into a nice California community they awakened to find their front yard vandalized because of the color of their skin. And, even though Jennifer's parents wanted her to fit in with her white classmates, they also didn't want her to forget her roots.
While I can't pretend to know what Jennifer went through, there are many African Americans of her generation that traveled a similar journey and will understand from their own experience all that Baszile write about. Her memoir was so intersting to me. It shows how a family that worked hard to fit in still didn't and how that affected their children. Jennifer is just a bit older thanme, so many of the things she refrences in her childhood are things I remember as well. What also struck me is that the discrimination she felt - sometimes subtly- has stayed with her. The people who inflicted these wounds on Jennifer carelessly underestimated their power and the length these slights were felt.
While Jennifer may have considered herself "the other one" and her sister "the pretty one", the photographs show that both girls are beautiful. Her writing and credential speak for themselves as well, and would love to know how Baszile's life developed after her highschool graduation.