White Girl Within: Letters of Self-Discovery Between a Transgender and Transracial Black Man and His Inner Female
For millennia, letters have been a powerful medium through which to express deepest sentiments and feelings about well-kept secrets. Educator and speaker Ronnie Gladden leverages the power of the missive to share complicated and sensitive emotions and unvarnished truths about the confluence of race and gender in their memoir White Girl Within.
In the compilation of letters, the first set is written to Ronnie—a Black man—by their inner White Girl, a persona who claims to live deep within Gladden’s psyche. White Girl tells of pivotal moments in Gladden’s life. By demonstrating how dueling transgender and transracial tendencies interact, Gladden challenges the reader to consider the complexity of racialized and gendered identities.
From my perspective as a diversity, equity and inclusion practitioner, this book is wholehearted and brilliant. Gladden embodies the struggle to overcome internalized racism in writings that are both cerebral and visceral at the same time, offering different layers of meaning. In centering the voice of Whiteness, the author offers a piercing critique of the current discourse about anti-Black racism. Letters question and challenge traditional notions of Black masculinity and their link to what Gladden calls the “plantation industrial complex.”
The power of the book is that every reader will take away something different, depending on their social identities and orientation toward issues of racial identity and equity.
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