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Zora and Me

I would call Zora and Me a counter-narrative of black girlhood because it challenges the ideas of black girls being illiterate, disrespectful, or irresponsible.

Zora has an impressive vocabulary and love for language, demonstrating both an acuity for academic literacies and ability to communicate well within her rural community’s linguistic settings. She and Carrie also conduct themselves with great awareness of how their actions will affect others and seek constantly to use their knowledge for the good of those around them. Their boldness and natural spunk never conflict with these aims.

Black Girlhood

Black girlhood is represented with some complexity in Zora and Me. Carrie and Zora are from a rural community that does not possess great wealth, but is also not so poor as to lack food, clothing, or shelter. Eatonville is a town established by African Americans for African Americans, so it does not have the “fear of whites” Joe Clarke mentions. However, Lake Maitland just down the road is like another world for Zora and Carrie, and it’s there that they meet Gold. Gold’s ability to pass as white and her consequences for doing so create a depth of representation for being a black girl/adolescent. She reasons that she chose to appear white because the world had more to offer white folk, whereas Zora wonders what more anyone could ask for than the presence and love of the people closest in life. Zora and Me teaches us that literacies extend far beyond those Carrie, Zora, and Teddy learn in the classroom. Zora’s critical thinking, Carrie’s inductive reasoning, and Teddy’s ability to interact with animals both wild and tame all serve them outside the classroom and come from sources beyond academia. It also reminds us that the skills of school life are merely one set necessary for community health, justice, and wellbeing.

Lessons Learned

Zora and Me teaches us that literacies extend far beyond those Carrie, Zora, and Teddy learn in the classroom. Zora’s critical thinking, Carrie’s inductive reasoning, and Teddy’s ability to interact with animals both wild and tame all serve them outside the classroom and come from sources beyond academia. It also reminds us that the skills of school life are merely one set necessary for community health, justice, and wellbeing.

Connections to #BGM 

I think a Black Girl Magic Pedagogy related to this book would include a willingness to believe the testimonies of black girls and find ways to incorporate them into the pursuit of equity and justice. Zora and Carrie are instrumental in both for Eatonville. A Black Feminist assessment might consider the community impact of thought and scholarship rather than its value in a vacuum.

Black and Blue Medusa

I chose this image to connect the beauty of black women with the deadly attributes society often (wrongly) imparts to them. While black women can be dangerous (like Celine in Stephanie Nicole Norris’s Beautiful Assassin), only a society founded on ignorant insecurity sees difference as intrinsically threatening. There is beauty in difference, strength in diversity, and always more that connects than divides us as human beings.