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

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,953,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By A Customer on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book should be read by everyone! Its depth, humor, intelligence and sensitivity reflect the predicament of resilient African-American strivers. But, its real value and appeal lie in the complex, universal humanity conveyed by the interviewees. Whether you're the object of the the issues so expertly handled by Chambers, friends, loved-ones, or allies in addressing them, or interested newcomers, you will benefit from this affirming work.
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Format: Hardcover
I'd heard about this book numerous times. I'd read about it in Essence, read numerous customer reviews and knew I would have to read it one day-- if only I could get through the 200 pages of assigned reading I had to do. Little did I know once I picked this book up, I would be unable to put it down. I found myself opening its pages anytime I had the opportunity and finishing it in no time. It's that good.

As a college senior about to graduate in less than a month, this was perhaps the best book I could have read to prepare me for the journey that lies ahead. In it I found images of myself...who I am now, and who I'd like to be. Chambers does an excellent job capturing the emotion, joys and pains of Black women who live successful lives as mothers, professionals, and socialites, and this book makes it clear that success definitely means different things to different people. It provides much needed evidence that "Black women" is not a monolithic category full of angry, money hungry, lazy, uneducated, snobby, or lonely women. Instead "Having it All?" shows that Black women in America and around the world are living it up and dealing with the same issues women of all races proclaim to be their own.

Chambers beautifully intertwines interviews with sisters from every street in the black middle class and upper class neighborhoods with parts of her own life, providing a diary-like, advice filled, "here's how I did it, how I'm doing it, and you can too" type of book. What I liked most was that Chambers and the women she spoke with were completely honest about their lives. The ladies' honesty and eagerness to open and reveal the most personal aspects of their lives for our benefit radiates off every page.
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