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Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

For every black woman who wants to be free

By meerna Jul11,2024
For every black woman who wants to be free

Award-winning local author’s latest book sets a blueprint for black women’s liberation

At the end of her second book, Dear Black Girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power, author Tamara Winfrey-Harris assures her fellow black women that “together we will stand free,” which is both a message of encouragement and a call to action.

A woman present at one of Winfrey-Harris’ author meetings pointed this out but also asked for clarification: “How do we do this?”

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

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

Her vision is for the book to be a resource or roadmap that black women can use to collectively free themselves, she said. She wants it to be a focal point for their conversations about achieving and defining freedom for themselves.

As the president of a nonprofit, an active member of her community, an author and a caregiver for her husband with dementia, she knows firsthand the many responsibilities that black women bear. 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 from you? Is your employer getting the best from you? Is your partner getting the best from you? Are you getting the best?” she asked.

Winfrey-Harris, a certified yoga instructor, combined yoga philosophy with feminist principles to create this guide.

Like yoga, Winfrey-Harris believes that “freedom is a practice,” and she offers readers practical steps to take along their journey through the book. She includes tips on creating a morning routine, meditation, breathing, getting in touch with your authentic self, and paying attention to the messages and stereotypes you encounter.

The author intentionally described the harmful stereotypes and distortions that black women face, such as being overly sexualized due to their body type and being automatically expected to take care of others.

“We need to get better at identifying them and naming them so people can recognize them when they see them,” she said.

Winfrey-Harris said that if people do not intentionally pay attention to these ideas, these misconceptions “can start to seem like truth.”

Tamara Winfrey-HarrisTamara Winfrey-Harris
Tamara Winfrey-Harris drew inspiration from yoga and feminism to create a guide to freedom for black women. (Photo courtesy/Sharpen Pencil Marketing)

Knowing your truth is one of the six pillars of freedom outlined in the book. The other pillars are recognizing distortions, celebrating your true self, 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 share their journeys to freedom. Stories about hiding her smile as a young, black girl with crooked teeth, changing her name to make it easier for coworkers to pronounce, and crying in her car after a day of microaggressions at the office speak to the everyday challenges Black women face.

“We encompass so many different identities. I wanted to hear from Gen Z. 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 women can see themselves in the book.”

While the book focuses on the experiences of black women, Winfrey-Harris says it is really for everyone.

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

Following her award-winning book The Sister are Alright: Changing the Narrative of Black Women in America and the bestseller Dear Black Girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power, Winfrey-Harris said she sees this book as a culmination of her previous work.

“I honestly know too many amazing black women who are still not free, and we deserve to be free and to be happy,” Winfrey-Harris said. “We carry so much and so much is expected of us, and I just wanted to be a part of helping black women find peace.”

Winfrey-Harris will host a reading of her new book at 5:30 p.m. July 19 at Indy Reads at 1066 Virginia Avenue in Indianapolis. The event is free, but you can register through Eventbrite. Visit tamarawinfreyharris.com for more information about upcoming readings and 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.

By meerna

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