What I Learned from Tabby

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen

For the last few weeks I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut. At one point, I was in the middle of four books I was reading for pleasure and three I was reading for work, yet none of them were giving me that I will drop everything to finish this book feeling. I was finding all of them very interesting and very insightful; I’ll probably even write a review about one or two of them. But I was missing that feeling, and the impending date of my next scheduled post was not helping my motivation. 

Then… magic happened. A few days ago I was aimlessly scrolling on Instagram when I saw the cover of the book Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen. I immediately knew: I need to read this book! 

It was Saturday so my neighborhood library was closed, along with most of the other libraries in the city. Just my luck though, one of the few open-on-weekends libraries had a copy of the book! I hopped out of bed and drove half an hour across town to find it. But when I got to the shelves, the book was nowhere to be found.

I went to the library computer to double check that the book was available, it was. I went to the shelves again, no luck. I asked a library worker who did the same thing I just did, with no luck either, then took me to the desk to ask the librarian. The librarian looked it up, confirming for now the third time that they should have the book. Then, after thinking for a moment, she said, “let’s check the new release display”… and there it was: my book!

Turns out the cover I had seen on Instagram was the new edition cover, which had come out less than two weeks prior. Ironically, I realized later that I had seen the original cover multiple times but it never quite grabbed my attention. It seemed the book found me at just the right time.

As I began reading, I knew immediately this was the book my mind had been waiting for. When I read the title: Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, it resonated with me on a level I was not expecting during my lazy insta-scrolling. And as I read through the misadventures of the protagonist Tabby, she resonated with me.

To be honest, I can’t directly relate to a lot of the situations Tabby faced in the book. I’m not battling for a promotion in corporate America, my friends aren’t facing serious marital issues, I’m definitely not stressing over my biological clock. Yet, I felt like I understood Tabby. There is something comforting, almost homelike, int the experience of reading about someone (no matter their fictional status) going through regular life struggles while acknowledging that being Black, and a woman, and a Black woman exacerbates those struggles. It was satisfying to, along with Tabby, take a second to acknowledge that Damn! This is exhausting!, sit in it for just a moment, then go back to fighting the good fight.

What I think Tabby and I both realized throughout the course of this book is that while Black girls must die exhausted, because of racism, misogynoir, oppression, etc., we also must die exhausted because of the fervor with which we laugh with our friends, love our families, and live long fulfilling lives! So I agree with author Jayne Allen, we Black girls really must die exhausted, but for more reasons, and for more joyful reasons than one might initially think.



p.s. Don’t judge a book by its cover, it might just be the one you’ve been waiting for.

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