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Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  398 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Do you ever feel that you have to leave your true self at the door in order to placate White colleagues? Do you downplay your abilities for fear of outshining Black men? Do you speak one way in the office, another way to your girlfriends? Is it sometimes a struggle to feel good about how you look -- your skin color, your hair, your body size and shape?

In this arresting and
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 2nd 2003 by Harper (first published January 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,980)
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Jan 19, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

That's all I can say after reading this book.

If you've ever received the compliment "Wow, you speak so well......" or "Wow, you're so smart ......" with an unspoken trail off at the end of the sentence, this book is for you.

If you've ever spoken to someone on the phone and then met them in person, only to have them say in passing "When I talked to you, I thought you were White." This book is for you.

If you've cringed at the hyper sexualization of thin, Black females, the "once a Black male
While reading this I realized I picked the wrong time to delve into the subject matter and it was quite unintentional. I had borrowed it from the library and it was fast approaching the return date so I had to get a move on and read it.

Now why do I say wrong time? I say this because with all the negativity, bigotry & entitlement that is running rampant this book only served as a reminder and an emphatic confirmation of what African American women have to endure while navigating life in thes
Izetta Autumn
Given the recent torture and sexual assault of Megan Williams, a 20-year old West Virginian who was held captive for several days, while she was repeatedly raped and beaten, and the Dunbar Housing Project sexual assault, I feel it's vitally important to read about the lives of Black Women (and all womyn) in America - especially as so many of us face violence. For me, reading is about good books - but also books that equip me with the ability to live a more full and aware life.

Check out:
Koko Lewis
Great information, but no solutions to the issues we face. It is based off a study so it is a long hard read. I definitely saw myself or someone I knew in more than a few stories.
Deals with the duality of being black and female, encountering problems that neither black men nor white women face or coud emphatize with.
Mar 14, 2015 BMR, MSW, LSW rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot articulate how deeply this book affected me.

If there were a freshman survey course about me at a university, this would be the first book on the syllabus.

I have so much to unpack and think about after finishing this book. I'd say 60 percent of the stories resonated with me at such a deep level, it was like reading a narrative of my life so far. The other 40 percent of stories I recognized in the lives of other Black women I know.

I don't buy many books anymore, but I am buying this one.

A lot of this book hit close to home for me, and maybe that is a good thing. It explains a lot of what I have gone/continue to go through as a Black woman in modern society. Good read for gender studies, feminists, and Black/AA Studies students, as well as anyone interested in the psychological effects of 'shifting' to accommodate and 'smooth things over' for others.
Lori Hylton
Jan 22, 2013 Lori Hylton marked it as to-read
Read this book several years ago and it really spoke to me. But now that I'm at a much different place in my life I wonder if I will feel the same ? So it's on my re-read list. We'll see.
Doris Raines
What. Do. I. Think. About. This. Book. Not. Interest. Why. ? Simply. Because. I. Do. Not. Agree. With. Everything. This. Author. Quoted. Really. Maybe. Thats. Way. She. Feels. Not. _me. Iam. A. Proud. African. American. Know. Shame. In. My. Game. Why. Because. I. Love. Me. Some. Me. My. Skin. Is. Dark. And. Lovely. So. Am. I. Seems. Like. This. Author. Have. A. Low. Self. Of. Steem. Note. Love. Who. You. Are. Thus. Far. Dont. Be. Lack. Be. Proud. Of. Your. Skin. Tone. Welcome. To. The. Real. Wor ...more
Jul 20, 2007 Kelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life and times of black women in America having to endure dual "isms" against women and African Americans.
Jul 14, 2016 Monique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charisse Jones is an award winning author and reporter for USA today. Kumea Shorter-Gooden is a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at Alliant International University.

This book carefully recreates the emotional rollercoaster that Black women ride every day in corporate America. This work rest on the African American Women’s Voices Project (AAWBP), which interviewed four hundred African American women from across the United States. Overwhelmingly the women commented that they are a
Jul 01, 2011 Evelyne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An enlightening read that brought to the forefront many of the struggles and challenges Black women in America face--both within their families and communities and in the workforce. I will admit I was ignorant to many of these challenges. In this sense, Shifting has served to make me conscious of the many obstacles and prejudices Black women face in America--because of their race and also uniquely because of their gender. As a result of reading this book I have become more committed to making su ...more
Telly Ree
Jul 22, 2015 Telly Ree rated it liked it
This book is creative in how it explores ways African American women must shift to battle bigotry and sexism in their daily lives, either it be at work, school, within their own environments, relationships, family, and even church. While this covered many areas in which black women have to shift to survive, condensing a variety of situations down into a 300 page book did not give the authors a chance to really scratch the surface. What the book did do was unintentionally and indirectly draw the ...more
Jul 23, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it could be a little heavy handed sometimes with the amount of testimonials, ultimately I believed this book met it's goal which was to proved a textured look at the unique struggles Black women encounter as they navigate racism and sexism as well as the positive and negative aspects of "shifting," a cognitive and behavioral means of dealing with bigotry.
Deandra Francis
Jul 24, 2015 Deandra Francis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE EVER READ. I recommend to every woman, not only women of color because other women should read and gain insight of what black women go through in America.
Mr. Roboto
Jul 31, 2007 Mr. Roboto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I bought this book after meeting the authors at a book-signing at Women and Children First bookstore in Chicago. They do a nice job of addressing what many black people feel they have to do in the workplace - turn on their "acceptable" selves. This book presents the results of a qualitative study and includes quotes from interviews. A common way of shifting (mentioned often by study participants) is toning down anger to avoid being perceived as a crazy, finger-waving, neck-swiveling Black woman. ...more
Raynetta Manees
Outstanding. IMHO every black woman in America could learn a thing or three from this book! Will expand soon!
Jan 18, 2016 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does a great job of exploring the dual identity of being Black and being a woman. The authors provided a balanced mix of anecdotal stories, their own survey results, and outside research sources to explore areas in which Black women have to "shift" in their lives. This book is worth the read. Even if you are not Black or a woman, this book is a good source to learn about intersectionality and how it operates in our society.
Aug 09, 2010 Tracey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book. Provides the perspective of black women in America, along with the author's point-blank look at her own race: "If we can't understand what we want, then how can we expect others to understand what we want?"

Author was a child in the 1950s, in college in the 1960s and began her journalism career in the mid, to late 1960s. Her perspective on this topic is phenomenal.
Jan 04, 2014 Gwen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written book based on responses from a survey of a diverse group of black women. The responses provided a glimpse of how women felt they had to "shift " or navigate prejudices based on their complexion, race, employment, etc. Thus book is a must read.
Lawrence Tuck
Mar 08, 2013 Lawrence Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was incredible. I have run into that, where the person spoke to you on the phone, and when they met you in person they were shocked, because they didnt think you were black. I like how the author visited/interviewed those from many walks of life, and covered varied aspects of life as well-in great detail......
Shay Akil McLean
This book is amazing. This is a MUST read for every Black African woman as well as the individuals that love them. This book helped me understand my place & spaces as a Black African woman in America. I refer this book to everyone I know & it is by far one of my favorites. I will warn you, be ready to cry when you read this.
Jul 05, 2012 Annie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read about what it means to Black Woman America in various aspects of life and the moment to moment struggle to be ourselves while trying to fit the mold of a society that has is both oppressive and misogynistic towards black women, despite the strides we have made.
Feb 20, 2008 Trina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Black women
The idea that Black women shift their demeanor, speech pattern, and appearance in order to be accepted by Black men and White America. I did not agree with the way the book was presented. I felt it was subjective and stilted in some of its views. Only one point of view was expressed.
John Mckinney
A very thought-provoking book. However, it is told as an exclusive part of
Black Women's lives and yet it is seen throughout any person that has to "put on a mask" for anything they may do, albeit work, school, dating, etc. etc,...
May 11, 2007 Rosie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting examination of how African-American women in the professional world sometimes feel as if they must "shift" who they are in order to be accepted and possibly break-through glass ceilings.
Michelle Oyeka
Oct 27, 2013 Michelle Oyeka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book... I didn't feel so alone in the way that I approached the world. This book defined a term that i already instinctively knew how to do, without being told
I loved this book. It was refreshing to see such an accurate portrait and saddening that so few would actually understand the books meaning.
Jul 31, 2016 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like another review stated, this book offered no solutions. However, for me it's enough to know that I am not alone.
Jun 27, 2010 Jerrika rated it liked it
Different than what I thought it'd be, but still a good book with interesting subject matter I could relate to.
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