cover image HAVING IT ALL? Black Women and Success

HAVING IT ALL? Black Women and Success

Veronica Chambers, . . Doubleday, $23.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-385-50638-0

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. (Jan.)