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Friday, July 12, 2024

For every Black woman who wants to be free

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Latest book by award-winning local author provides blueprint for Black women’s liberation

At the close of her second book, “Dear Black Girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power,” author Tamara Winfrey-Harris affirms to her fellow Black women that they “will all get free together,” which was both a message of encouragement and a call to action.

Taking note but seeking clarification, a woman in attendance at one of Winfrey-Harris’ book signings sincerely asked her, “How are we supposed to do that?”

Winfrey-Harris said her newest book, “A Black Woman’s Guide to Getting Free,” is her answer to that question.

“A Black Woman’s Guide to Getting Free” is the third book by author Tamara Winfrey-Harris. (Photo provided/Sharpen Pencil Marketing)

Her vision is for the book to be a resource or road map that Black women can use to get free together, she said. She would like it to be a centerpiece in their conversations about achieving and defining freedom for themselves.

As the president of a nonprofit organization, an active member in her community, an author and a caretaker for her husband who has dementia, she knows firsthand the many responsibilities Black women carry. But, she said, freedom must still be a priority.

“If you’re not free, if you’re not OK, are your children really getting the best of you? Is your employer getting the best of you? Is your partner getting the best of you? Are you getting the best of you?” she asked.

A certified yoga instructor, Winfrey-Harris combined yogic philosophies with principles of feminism to create this guide.

Like yoga, Winfrey-Harris believes “freedom is a practice,” and she offers practical steps for the reader to take as they journey through the book. She includes tips on creating a morning routine, meditation, breathing, tapping into one’s authentic self and paying attention to the messages and stereotypes that they encounter.

The author was intentional about detailing the harmful stereotypes and distortions Black women face, like being oversexualized due to their body type or being automatically expected to nurture others.

“We have to become better and better at identifying them and calling them out, so people recognize them when they see them,” she said.

If people do not intentionally call out these ideas, Winfrey-Harris said these misconceptions “can start to feel like truth.”

Tamara Winfrey-Harris
Tamara Winfrey-Harris drew ideas from yoga and feminism to create a guide for Black women’s freedom. (Photo provided/Sharpen Pencil Marketing)

Knowing your truth is one of the six pillars of freedom laid out in the book. The other pillars are spotting the distortions, celebrating the real you, understanding the cost of liberation, practicing freedom and seeing free Black women everywhere.

In addition to her personal reflections, Winfrey-Harris weaves in stories from several Black women who shared their journeys toward freedom. Stories about hiding your smile as a young dark-skinned girl with crooked teeth, changing your name so it was easier for your co-workers to pronounce and crying alone in the car after enduring a day of micro-aggressions at the office tell of the daily challenges Black women navigate.

“We contain multitudes and we have so many different identities. I wanted to hear from Gen Zers. I wanted to hear from trans-women,” she said. “I wanted to hear all the ways we show up in the world … to make sure that women could see themselves in the book.”

While the book centers the lived experiences of Black women, Winfrey-Harris says it is ultimately for everybody.

“I think (the book) can be useful for people who love women and Black women and Black girls, to learn how to support us in getting free and to not contribute to our oppression.”

Following the award-winning “The Sister are Alright: Changing the Narrative of Black Women in America” and the best-selling “Dear Black Girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power,” Winfrey-Harris said this book felt like the culmination of her previous works.

“I just frankly know too many amazing Black women who are still not free, and we deserve freedom, and we deserve joy,” Winfrey-Harris said. “We are carrying so much and so much is expected of us and I just wanted to contribute to Black women finding peace.”

Winfrey-Harris will host a reading of her new book at 5:30 p.m. on July 19 at Indy Reads at 1066 Virginia Avenue in Indianapolis. This event is free, but you can register through Eventbrite. Visit tamarawinfreyharris.com for additional details on upcoming readings and book signings. “A Black Woman’s Guide to Getting Free” is available wherever books are sold.

Contact Editor-in-Chief Camike Jones at 317-762-7850.

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