From the archives: Emily Bernard and the complexity of being a black woman in America

Emily Bernard and her book 'Black is the Body.'
Emily Bernard and the cover of her book "Black is the Body."
Stephanie Seguino | Cover image courtesy of Knopf

As a child, Emily Bernard worried she was not black enough. As an adult, she wonders whether she's too black for America today.

Her new book is built on that kind of nuance. "Black is the Body" is a collection of first-person essays that explore vast themes like race, identity and trauma — through the personal details of her own life. She was born in the South, lives now in the Northeast, and is married to a white man.

"Blackness is an art, not a science," writes Bernard. "It is a paradox: intangible and visceral; a situation and a story." She believes that approaching these volatile topics through stories, not lectures, will create a safe place that nurtures vulnerability — and vulnerability is needed for true understanding.

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Bernard in 2019 about the complexity of being black in America today. It’s a fitting prelude to this week’s upcoming Big Books and Bold Ideas conversation with Boyah J. Farah about his journey from a refugee camp in Somalia to the United States, which he details in “America Made Me a Black Man.”


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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