The new book that gets to the heart of black womanhood

Kenya Hunt’s insightful and explosive collection, Girl, is a must-read. We examine its connection to the black female experience.

Culture

Have you ever picked up a book and was struck by its intimate sense of black sisterhood? Like how it managed to reflect a conversation between you and your closest circle of girlfriends? Girl, a collection of essays by award-winning journalist and fashion expert Kenya Hunt, somehow manages to capture just that.

Girl by Kenya Hunt

Said to be in the vein of Roxane Gay’s iconic book Bad Feminist, which is a portrait of the author’s life as a woman, Girl finds its own strength in the deep conversational thread of stories and subjects that are most pressing and relevant today. It includes Kenya’s own thoughts and those of her contributors too, such as author Candice Carty-Williams, journalist Funmi Fetto, hair entrepreneur Freddie Harrel, business leader Ebele Okobi and activist and writer, Jessica Horn.

Long overdue recognition

The brilliant essays cover topics on all of our lips: the meaning of Black Girl Magic, the politics of black hair and what we think of when we hear ‘woke’. Kenya said when the book launched: “This year, Black women have shaped historic movements, powered protests, swung elections, dominated headlines and fronted magazine covers. We’ve grieved, we’ve protested, we’ve celebrated, we’ve advocated, we’ve shown up to work, shown up for our families, friends, lovers, neighbors, and most significantly, each other. Black women have BEEN doing the work, unrecognised, for too many years to count.”

Red, white, blue – and black

As an American in London, Kenya used her background as inspiration for Girl. Before the book was released she said: “Moving abroad at the dawn of the Obama administration and pinnacling of social media was a very eye-opening experience for me in terms of my understanding of womanhood, black womanhood, and belonging.”

Kenya pointed out that conversations around the intersection of black women’s experience tended to revolve around American culture, and used the book as an opportunity to look at it from a more global perspective. “In so doing, I hope to inspire all women to take control of our stories in the age of identity politics, as I use big cultural touchpoints and intimate personal experiences to tackle the hashtags, internet moments and sweeping movements that have attempted to celebrate and define us.”

Kenya Hunt

Fashion catwalks of many colours

Kenya, a senior editor at Grazia and the first black deputy editor of Elle UK, is also founder of R.O.O.M Mentoring which champions inclusion in the fashion industry and making space for a diversity of images and stories. As someone who specialised in fashion for Grazia before taking the role of Deputy Editor there, it’s a subject very close to her heart. In fact, she shares her thoughts about that in Girl. Here is an online excerpt of Kenya’s belief that diversity on the fashion catwalks is here to stay.

Girl, published by HarperCollins, is out now. Priced £16.99.

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