You Are Your Best Thing

Title: You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience

Edited By: Tarana Burke and Brené Brown

Genre: nonfiction essays psychology race sociology

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Summary: You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience edited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown is a collection of essays that tell stories of shame, resilience, vulnerability and worthiness from the Black perspective.


Thoughts before reading the book: I love Brené Brown! I listen to her podcasts, one of my favorite books of hers is Gifts of Imperfection and I love how she is able to put language to feelings that are hard to explain. I was so excited to see Tarana Burke collaborate with her and apply her research around shame and vulnerability to the Black experience.


Thoughts after reading the book: There are so many great quotes and takeaways throughout this book. Here were a few of my favorites:


In Between Us: A Reckoning with My Mother , Jason Reynolds shares the shame that came with choosing himself over his family. I can relate to the feeling of shame and guilt when you put your self interest before others.


In Love Lifted Me: Subverting Shame Narratives and Legitimizing Vulnerability as a Mechanism for Healing Women in the Black Church, Tracey Michae'l Lewis- Giggetts touches on how many black girls who grew up in the church learned early on how to "perform" to earn worthiness. They learned early on how to dress, speak and do all the things grown-ups would applaud them for. Religion does many things right, but sometimes it can get it wrong especially by shunning those who it is supposed to help.


In The Blues of Vulnerability: Love and Healing Black Youth, Shawn A Ginwright shares that vulnerability is the key to building meaningful relationships with youth. It's so important for us to be open and honest with youth so that the next generation can learn from our experiences; the good the bad and the ugly!

“Those of us who work with youth know that the relationship is the most important intervention. That’s why we learned to 'keep it real', and sometimes that means being vulnerable and letting our humanity spill out. When we do that, we make a sacred agreement weaving together trust and honesty, a brilliant fabric of authentic care, which is of course precisely what young people need in a world that shows them no love.”- Shawn A Ginwright

In Honoring Our Stories, Transforming Our Pain, Deran Young had so many quotable moments around embracing our history and being vulnerable with ourselves. From her essay I learned of the Ghanaian term Sankofa which means “go back and get it”. This metaphor “expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge learned in the past and bringing it into the present to make a positive progress.”


Unlearning Shame and Remembering Love by Yolo Akili Robinson made me reflect on Brene’s teachings around worthiness. We are worthy right now in this movement. Yolo’s words really spoke to me when he said: “Sometimes I wake up and have to remind myself: there is nothing wrong with me. I have patterns to unlearn, new behaviors to embody, and wounds to heal. But there’s nothing wrong with me in the core of who I am. I am a learning generations of harm and remembering love. It takes time.”


My favorite essay was What’s in the Name? by Luvvie Ajayi Jones! In her essay Luvvie shares her life journey through the evolution of her name. I have always been interested in the meaning behind names because in many cultures, a person’s name holds power and foreshadows some of their traits or calling. I’m not sure if this is my favorite essay since I’m recently engaged and will be changing my name, but I enjoyed seeing her name change along with her personal growth.

“I have made name switches in moments when I’m about to make leaps, often in fear and often quickly, as if my spirit knows it’s time.” “My names have been my affirmation, and I’m grateful.”- Luvvie Ajayi Jones

- Maya & The Spine Down




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