Queenie : Black British woman gone mad

Queenie by Candice Carty Williams is a riot of a read. It is at once humorous and sad as fuck in many ways. I’d wanted to read it for so long. It’s the first book I read that spoke in the voice of a Black woman from England. I found there to be so many moments of relatability, so many moments when I crushed for Queenie and her struggles, so much of it that I understood. I think that what was underappreciated by me but not totally in oblivion were the obstacles and denials of Black women to love and romance. How often our stock in the dating game gets tarnished with the weights of fetishization, ostracization, straight up hatred. There are times in her interactions with the white and Asian guys that she has interactions with where you can tell they do not even really see Queenie as a woman. Definitely not on par with White and Asian women. There’s this attitude from these men like as if Queenie doesn’t have any worth at all, like she is not even human. Now I think this was a particularly British nuance to the story because she was just so meek. I think a sista from the States would’ve spoke up more for herself. Unlike in the UK with its’ so called ” polite racism”, this policy of being “color blind”, no Black woman in America can even cleave to such an absurd notion without knowingly lying to herself. We know there ain’t shit polite about racism and ain’t nothing about color that will blind another. But I’ve been there when you swallow what they say, when you make it your mission to not be like the others, when you don’t confront your oppressors. It brings up a lot of thoughts about interracial relationships. That’s a whole other piece but it reaffirms to me that these relationships are not historical and contemporary baggage -free. No matter how well intentioned and informed, we do not exist in a vacuum and it’s pure foolishness to think someone of such immense privilege can ever truly empathize with you. I finish Queenie and see her better but not evolved. I think that she goes on looking for her shiny white prince who will love her , someone who blocks out the noise, someone who allows her in the cold London air to believe in color blindness. Queenie reminds me of a writing tradition of Black women finding themselves, of learning to assess their environments, move accordingly and discard or conceal parts of their makeup to survive, to find love. It is a good read and I definitely recommend for anyone who ever wondered about Black girls and love across the pond.

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