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Having It All?: Black Women and Success Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 21, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a series of interrelated essays, Chambers (Mama's Girl), explores the lives of middle- and upper-middle-class African-American women. Throughout, Chambers nicely weaves historical and literary anecdotes into her insightful narrative. While identifying this population as linchpins in the astronomical rise of a black middle class, she pursues such questions as how their "creative and indomitable spirit" translated into corporate reality while black men languish; why they no longer feel the need to choose allegiance between race and gender; what the image of Aunt Jemima declares about today's affluent African-American woman; and why they are more likely to be alone than any group of black women before them. Nonetheless, these women, Chambers says, have a strong sense of community and a renewed feeling of empowerment, which enables their transition into a predominantly white mainstream culture. Largely based on interviews of black women defying conventional perceptions, and written for those "who have crafted successful lives without role models or media coverage," the book lends a panoramic effect to such figures as former Whitney curator Thelma Golden, television host Star Jones, Barbara Bush's former press secretary Anna Perez, Anita Hill, and the growing population of African-American stay-at-home moms.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Yes, agrees journalist Chambers (Mama's Girl) as she peers into the lives of successful middle- and upper-middle-class African American women, these go-getters have progressed academically, professionally, and financially. But they still have to deal with being stereotyped in the media.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (January 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385506384
  • ASIN: B000F6ZB44
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,616,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Clampet on January 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The only book I've ever read that makes discussions about race and gender exciting. Perfect for anyone trying to understand the changing face of success in America.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have one peeve with this book: The author excludes teachers as successful, college-educated professionals (pg. 6 Introduction, hardcover)! Teachers, at the time she wrote this book and today, are required to earn a Bachelors degree, to receive specialized, professional training to be certified, AND they must obtain a Masters Degree within about 5 years after completing the training just to keep their jobs. With all of those educational requirements, how could Chambers say that teachers are not "college-educated professionals"? Then to make matters worse, Chambers says that she uses "success" in the "broadest terms" to include teachers. So teachers aren't successful in her eyes. According to her, a successful Black woman must be an attorney or a doctor or have earned an MBA or have earned a Bachelors degree from an Ivy League school. Even though I meet her standards for the successful Black woman, I can appreciate the ambition, brains and professionalism in my past teachers. Moreover, I have family members who are teachers, and they are just as ambitious, smart, and (dare I say) more humble than some of the women Chambers praises in this book. I hope she realizes that it took successful teachers to help those Black women she features in this book to get to where they are. And those teachers, as well as many others, are just as successful as any other degreed middle and upper-class professional she'd put on a pedestal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By thesavvybamalady VINE VOICE on April 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read Ms Chamber's book, and I was real glad to know that there are sisters who are achieving and doing things some of us have only dreamed of. I enjoyed reading of the Aunt Jemina's who although some folk had beef with them, these women were representatives of Quaker Oats during segregation, and had toured the country meeting people and promoting the product. one of them urged other women to go out and meet others as well. In present day situations, although the women are achieving, they are also having unique situations, such as being one of the onlys,meaning being the only black in town or at a company, or who has achieved some first momentum. One lady spoke of living in a predominately white town in California, and whenever she would go and make an order, the salespeople would hesitate ordering thinking she wouldn't come back and all. Another spoke about having a black West Indian nanny who called her by her first name, told her personal business, and then had the nerve to tell her that they didn't care to work for black people. Then you had a woman who had a prominent position with a prestigious museum in New York, who after the museum changed administrations, demoted and finally fired her despite the fact that she did great things for this museum. She has went on to the Studio Museum of Harlem. And on and on. Most spoke of vacations in Europe, living in the best of communities, but still there was this echo among them if this was really worth it. It should be required reading at colleges and high schools. Very resourceful book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dera R Williams VINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Journalist Veronica Chambers has attempted to give readers a panoramic view of the successful Black woman's journey amongst a sea of self-help and other nonfiction books on similar subjects in Having it All. Drawing upon historical context along with interviews with an assortment of African American women, it appears she has favorably portrayed them in this text. Recent articles such as the Newsweek article about successful Black women's strides and challenges juxtaposed against the reported dismal picture of African American men's accomplishments give a short synopsis of the obstacles, fears and triumphs of having it all. This book digs further into the psyche of Black women, who Zora Neale Hurston has called " the mules of the world". But we have come a long way baby, as evidenced in the changing face of Aunt Jemima who has gone from an overweight, handkerchief wearing mammy to a perfectly coifed, smartly dressed intelligent woman that entertainment stylist B. Smith would be proud to honor.
Can Black women have it all? Over a five-year period Chambers spoke with such high profile women as Janet Hill, Starr Jones, and Donna Auguste along with others not as well known who struggle with the same doubts and concerns as their White counterparts but with the added burden of race. What is interesting is how each of these women define success. Some count having it all as having successful careers along with the financial rewards along with a satisfying marriage and children. Still others women measure their success by their careers strides only and do not feel the need to marry and/ or have children. But more times than not, they all find themselves straddling the line between the Black and White worlds.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Naoki on September 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is an interesting read and I enjoy the women's stories the author chose to profile. However, I picked up this book with hopes of more key success techniques for black women hoping to attain the status of those mentioned in the book. Instead was an overwhelming reinforcment of captalism, consumerism and black women using white/western definitions of success.

Chambers however did pick a unique topic that is becoming very influential in Black American culture. But with lack of statistics, surveys and data to show numbers, many of the statements were more opinions and less factual.

For the sequel, I hope she emphasizes the techniques that move the women to the "top" and provides more numbers to give a broader view of middle class professional black women
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