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"She's Such A Bright Girl: An American Story" is a story of respectability politics gone very wrong. Petula Caesar is raised in the 1970s and 1980s in Paterson, New Jersey and Baltimore, Maryland. Petula's Black parents, dark-brown skinned Christine and a very light-skinned Walter – migrate north from the south to find work. Once their light-skinned daughter is born, Walter realizes her complexion could give her a great advantage in her life if used correctly. Walter raised Petula to be as "White" as possible by straightening her hair, surrounding her with White dolls, only exposing her to culture created by White people, and teaching her to not be too loud, too overbearing, or to take up too much space in the world. Petula was taught to always be aware of how White people viewed her, and to behave in ways that would make White people feel comfortable and unthreatened. In exchange, she would achieve upward mobility and escape the trauma of being Black in America. But while doing this, Walter created a tremendous identity crisis in Petula, who had to fight massive fears and insecurities – demons that eventually came to haunt Walter as well.
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About the Author
Petula has been a multi-talented artist and a professional writer for over twenty years. She got her start writing erotica when she was published in New York Times bestselling author Zane’s erotica anthology “Caramel Flava.” Petula also served as publishing editor for Mic Life Magazine and editor-in-chief for Speakerbox Magazine, online publications covering the underground entertainment scene in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Petula branched out into freelance writing, and she has been a contributing writer for Baltimore’s former alternative weekly City Paper, The Afro-American Newspapers, and Baltimore Magazine. Petula is also a performance poet who has been featured at Artscape, the largest free arts festival in the nation, and she has performed erotic poetry and suggestive storytelling with her band “Luvstruck” in tow to audiences up and down the East Coast.