"HAVING IT ALL? portrays (at last!) the joys, dreams and concerns of successful black women but it is not only for them. Women of all races will see themselves reflected in Chambers' subjects--they may also be fascinated by the differences. This book is a much-needed contribution to the conversation we all have---with our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters--about how, as a woman, to lead a truly full and satisfying life."
-Peggy Orenstein, author of Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids, & Life in a Half-Changed World
"With verve and personal insight, Veronica Chambers charts one of the most important but under-covered social movements of our time--the rise of black women to their rightful place in American professional life. It's a coming-of-age story not just for these women, but for the whole country."
--Jonathan Alter, Newsweek
"A fascinating and enlightening glimpse into the lives and minds of successful black women today. The book, culturally rich and eminently readable, is one every reader–black or white, male or female, would do well to immerse herself in."
-Cathi Hanauer, Editor of Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood and Marriage
"HAVING IT ALL? is the real thing. These are women in real situations -- Veronica Chambers has written a fascinating and wonderfully researched book."
-Gail Buckley, Author of American Patriots
“Veronica Chambers is smart and brave. HAVING IT ALL? should be required reading for any woman, Black, White or myriad other, who dares to break out of the box and define herself.”
- Benilde Little, Author of Acting Out and Good Hair
"Veronica Chambers' HAVING IT ALL? is more than a collective biography of successful black women. The book is a history lesson about women who've transformed the cultural image from Aunt Jemima to uber-mogul Oprah Winfrey--and transformed America in turn. Most importantly, Chambers reveals the moments of self-transformation that happen in every black woman's life, through the stories of some of the most fascinating and accomplished people in America."
-Farai Chideya author of THE COLOR OF OUR FUTURE
From the Hardcover edition.
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.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Chambers, formerly the cultural writer at Newsweek, wonderfully synthesizes the experiences of more than 50 contemporary, middle-class black women. Despite cultivating a high degree of self-awareness and spirituality, as well as attaining professional success, many of the interviewees come off as one-dimensional-none of them really has it all, and, of course, each defines all individually. While she acknowledges that some so-called high-class problems are comparatively insignificant ("try bemoaning the fact you were treated poorly by a snobby salesperson at [Bergdorf Goodman] to your grandmother, the daughter of a slave"), Chambers keenly characterizes these women as having "cultural schizophrenia," torn between contradictory roles. They are "a creation of dreams, ideology, and opportunities created by both the Civil Rights Movement and the modern women's rights movement," and their lives have "been a long series of negotiations between real and imagined obstacles, between low expectations, stereotypes and limited resources." Extremely well written and at times revelatory, this narrative isn't out to draw hard conclusions. Instead, it's a cogent, eyeopening exploration.-Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Hartford Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
An absorbing look at the Clair Huxtables of the world. These African-American women have benefited from both the civil rights and feminist movements, going in one generation "from the kitchen to the boardroom." They summer on the Vineyard and in Sag Harbor, shop in Paris, frequent Broadway plays, and attend gallery openings. Among those profiled are Thelma Golden, deputy director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Lynette Hall, director of on-air promotions for ABC turned stay-at-home-mom; and Crystal Ashby, antitrust lawyer for a major oil company. As journalist Chambers (Mama’s Girl, 1996, etc.) ponders the extraordinary gains made by black women, she also underscores the issues unique to this group. While many of her subjects experience both gender and cultural isolation within the workplace, they are also isolated within their own families, often being the first to go to college, the first to attend graduate school, the first to own a second home. It may be difficult for them to find a partner equal in income and class, yet unlike their white counterparts, they are urged to look toward blue-collar men as potential mates. But as one woman put it, "How will we meet [the construction worker]? If we’re in a certain demographic then shouldn’t we be meeting men who are in that demographic?" All in all, though, these women aren’t waiting for Prince Charming. If single, they are involved in their careers, volunteer work, and hobbies. In one section revealing the legacy of both political movements, the author interviews two women who came of age during the Black Power movement and their adult daughters, who were children during the feminist movement. The mothers identify themselves first asblacks and second as women; for their daughters, the reverse is true. A fine appraisal of the women in the growing African-American middle and upper classes.