Many Blessings: A Tapestry of Accomplished African American Women
Sonnee Weedn, PhD
Chispa Publishing (2011)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (12/11)
When I moved to the USA a good decade ago, I got immediately immersed in the African-American community. Living in New Orleans will do that to you for sure, since the Big Easy is a city where a good few racial lines are nicely blurred. Unfortunately that does not mean that color lines do not exist there, or that people are color blind. Being Caucasian myself, and from a place which hardly ever sees people of color, the African-American community was a big surprise to me, and I quickly get to realize how little I really knew about it. Just like Dr. Weedn I felt a strong need to learn more, and I have been continuing that process throughout the years. This might well be an additional reason why I liked “Many Blessings” so much, not that there is any shortage of great reasons to like it anyhow. We all need to understand the people living next door to us, and I often feel this is something sorely lacking in the American culture today.
One of the very present and often expressed thoughts in the African-American society seems to be, “But we do not have any role models!” I have heard it all too often and while I could not have disagreed more simply by looking around myself and seeing all the people making so much difference on a daily basis, I do recognize the need for something tangible that goes beyond the likes of media stars, regardless of how powerful, successful and inspiring they might be. Whether we like it or not, very few people will ever have the chance to change things on a scale of Oprah or Iman, to name just two of them. That’s where the wonderful “Many Blessings” comes in. Dr. Weedn interviewed thirty-one African-American women from many different walks of life, dividing the book into sections named after the predominant characteristic shared by them. Here we find the Survivors, the Inspirers, the Nurturers, the Crusaders, the Creatives, the Academics, and the Beauties. While I definitely love those titles, I felt quite strongly that all of those women could certainly represent more than a single of those categories. I have never heard of any of them, yet every one of their stories was an incredible inspiration and a guiding light to building a better future.
While the book is clearly geared towards the African-American audiences, I believe it should be required reading for anybody who would like to understand and appreciate this great country better. Everybody could and should be inspired by those stories of courage, overcoming their adversity, creating a wonderful today and an even better tomorrow. “Many Blessings” is a book to be shared with people whom you love, and with those who need to learn how to love better.