ALL THE WOMEN IN MY FAMILY SING Book Review – A Glittering Tapestry of Feminine Recall

Editor’s Note:  Read related interviews in the George Floyd: In Memoriam roundup.

All The Women in My Family Sing (ATWIMFS), is a compilation of powerful poetry and prose, ranging from the charming illuminated windows into a certain cultural tradition, to worst nightmares realized. This reader would recommend a few clearing breaths between each story. Deborah Santana is responsible for finding, curating, and compiling the stories of these women of color – alike in their uniqueness and humanizing the experience of what might be considered Other.

Deborah Santana Curates a Folkloric Constellation

These are educators, activists, mothers, artists, and genuine pieces of American history, all willing to share their most pivotal and definitive moments, and for that alone we appreciate. Perhaps a further call for deep appreciation is the care and craft in which each writer delivered their words. We’re taken to vignettes on many corners of the world, not as tourists, but through the eyes of the locals. We’re taken overseas, or down the Mississippi and experiencing the journey to acceptance, or lack thereof once we reach our destination.

In “From Negro to Black”, Oakland-Born La Rhonda Crosbey-Johnson illustrates from personal witness of evolution how the nomenclature of Black Americans through history has shaped the mindset and perhaps aspirations of the affected community.

In Phiroozeh Petigara’s “This is How You Do”, we’re taken between California to Karachi, Pakistan through her eyes – two spaces that are both home. One, by one we’re taken through themes in identity and storytelling through the lens of careers, social justice, family, beauty ideals, trauma, and travel – turning these pages certainly feels like an adventure that travels far and wide.

One of many stand out stories for this music lover is Deborah J. McDuffe’s “Forever, for Always, for Luther”.  We span across Mc. Duffe’s incredible career and movie-worthy account of the legendary Mr. Vandross’ career. One might end up humming the words to one of his famous songs as Mc. Duffe recalls being among the first to hear, and fight for its airtime.

Now here’s where one’s empathic self-care may come into play.

Devastating stories of childbirth complications due to the patient’s symptoms being dismissed under the pregnancy pain umbrella and the inevitable accounts of racism of the past lingering into the present is enough to get lost in. On the plus side, these less-than-savory accounts may inspire a new appreciative light in your loved ones or spark a bout of activism for a cause held dear.

ATWIMFS Guides Us Through The Full Spectrum of Feeling

There was a charm in the Eat-Pray-Love-esque nature of the very last essay to grace the pages of ATWIMFS by Denise Diaab. “The Road to El Camino is a romance, a comedy, an adventure, and a PSA to live one’s highest calling, all rolled up into one account of what seems like a slice of Diaab’s rich and full life.

All the Women in My Family Sing is a book for anyone who has women in their life, wants to explore the complexities and diversities of this world’s women, and simply for those who appreciate a good personal story. This is a highly recommended, glittering piece of literature that would do well to grace the coffee tables of our homes, to the required reading lists of our educational institutions.

CONTRIBUTORS: Nikki Abramson, Samina Ali, Kira Lynne Allen, Natalie Baszile, Maroula Blades, Meera Bowman-Johnson, Charmaine Marie Branch, Randi Bryant-Agenbroad, Meilan Carter-Gilkey, Want Chyi, La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson, Belva Davis, Jennifer De Leon, Denise Diaab, Tara Dorabji, Marian Wright Edelman, Ugochi Egonu, America Ferrera, Yessenia Funes, V.V.  Ganeshananthan, Dr. K E Garland, Wanda M. Holland Greene, Menen Hailu, Camille Hayes, Nira A. Hyman, Mila Jam, Jordan Johnson, Lisa A. Jones, Soniah Kamal, Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, Porochista Khakpour, Nari Kirk, Veronica Kugler, Michelle Mush Lee, Ed.M, Nashormeh Lindo, Jaime Leon Lin-Yu, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Charina Lumley, Shyla Margaret Machanda, Sara Marchant, Deborah J. McDuffie, Kristin Leavy Miller, Fabiana Monteiro, Nayomi Munaweera, Roshila Nair, Robtel Neajai Pailey, Marti Paschal, Phiroozeh Petigara, Deborah  L. Plummer,  Ph.D., Eliana Ramage, Sridevi Ramanathan, Maria Ramos-Chertok, Rita Roberts-Turner, Terezita Romo, Deborah Santana, Shizue Seigel, Janine Shiota, Ethel Morgan Smith, Matilda Smith, Lalita Tademy, Emma McElvaney Talbott, Nuris Terrero, Tammy Thea, Blaire Topash-Caldwell, Rhonda Turpin, Hope Wabuke, Vicki L. Ward, Dera R. Williams, Kelly Woolfolk.

Publisher: Nothing But The Truth, LLC

Price: $16.95


About the Author:

Brittany Harlin is the founding artistic director of Chicago Urban Dance Collective and 2017 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award. Her influences are Hip Hop and Modern Dance Pioneers. In addition to company work, her dancing and choreography has been featured at Ragdale Foundation, Links Hall, Elastic Arts, Aragon Ballroom, DRAMA Duo Music Productions, Black Ensemble Theatre, and Hip Hop International.

Brittany’s focus is Hip Hop, Modern, Funk Styles, Waacking, and House, combined with growing knowledge of somatics and kinesiology, all through the concert dance lens. Her goal is to bring dance education to a place of complete body awareness, spiritual expression, and connection. Brittany hopes to establish her practice in expressive therapy, creating opportunities, and inclusiveness.

Her teaching artist pedagogy & philosophy are weighted in respecting the integrity of the vernacular movement, by sharing what she’s been taught from respected community members - and stopping exactly there. She relates those concepts to personal natural movement, and the energy of the dancers she’s working with. Her goal is to create solidarity between diverse backgrounds, conducive to the essence and intention of The Hip Hop Socio-Political Movement. Harlin’s passion in dance extends to her community as she has launched her most recent endeavor of teaching professionalism and industry standards to aspiring professional dancers.

When Brittany isn’t dancing, she is supplementing her work with her passions for poetry and songwriting. She’s been referred to as a fawn and a hippie on multiple, separate occasions.

Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Brittany Harlin.

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