Pushed Back to Strength: A Black Woman's Journey Home Review
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Pushed Back to Strength is a moving memoir written by an educated black woman who grew up in Memphis in the '40s. Reared in the projects by an intelligent and spiritual mother, Ms. Wade-Gayles doesn't sugar coat feelings she has toward white folks who kept her down.

As a white woman, I sometimes felt that the author didn't mean for me to read her book, and although I'm against any form of racism, I'm not sure I could convince the author of that. It's a real glimpse into her psyche and how it feels to be black in a world of mean white people.

The author writes of department stores with "whites only" signs and of having to sit in the back of the bus or in a separate train car, and you feel as if you're being discriminated against with her. She talks of her religious upbringing and describes rituals in black communities that are quite interesting—such as the neighbors offering old newspapers to pregnant women as a way of showing them that they're accepted in the community.

Wade-Gayles seems focused particularly on her hair, and she makes sure the reader knows which style she was wearing at particular times in her life. (And she also makes sure the reader knows she isn't copying white women's hairdos.) She takes readers on a journey to buy a wig, searching for a store that wasn't owned by a white person. She describes her mother washing her hair with lye soap and pressing it with irons heated on the kitchen stove.

Pushed Back to Strength is a book about remembering, and the author does it well. There are many passages that caused me to think, "Huh…I didn't know that." It's a real eye-opener. And, while sometimes she does go a bit overboard, it's easy enough to see why.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone and everyone—black, white, or orange. As a white person, it will make you think. And, making you think just might make you a better person.

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