Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari.
This week my selection is a beautiful coming of age memoir by polymath journalist, television director and trans activist Janet Mock: Redefining Realness. Mock’s book builds from a firm tradition of Black women taking their narrative into their own hands, writing themselves into a space that may have excluded them, from Maya Angelou to Roxane Gay.
In Redefining Realness, Mock takes us on a journey that, to paraphrase the author, ‘disrupts the portrait of womanhood’. Starting from her sometimes displaced and often fraught childhood as she explored her trans identity, the book takes us through the complex issues of engaging in sex work as she grew older, to her search for validation, selfhood and romantic love as a young woman in her twenties.
Mock’s remembrances of her early life as a Black mixed race trans girl in Hawaii are poetic, sometimes heart-breaking and ultimately uplifting. They’re personal to her, of course, but eminently relatable for so many of us.
However, it’s sadly rare to see trans people’s stories being told, and sadder still to see the rights and identities of trans people being attacked currently by those in power – culturally or politically – or the lives of Black trans people being brutally lost to little acknowledgement.
In the gorgeous conclusion to her book, Mock writes, ‘Somewhere along the way, I grew weary of grasping at possible selves, just out of reach. So I put my arms down and wrapped them around me. I began healing by embracing myself through the foreboding darkness until the sunrise shone on my face.’ It’s time we afforded trans people a similarly loving embrace. And that is why Redefining Realness by Janet Mock is my Book of the Week this week.