Brown Girl Like Me: A best friend's guide to survive life's conundrums

Brown Girl Like Me: A best friend's guide to survive life's conundrums

Award-winning spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur's debut book 'Brown Girl Like Me' is an inspiring memoir, an empowering proclamation that every British Indian girl needed to read yesterday. It's a book intended to give the 'Brown Girls' across the world confidence, power, reassurance, and permission to be the best version of themselves that they want to be. Bluebird of Pan Macmillan will publish the book on February 17.

A toolkit for brown women

Interwoven with interviews from brilliant South Asian women in the UK and worldwide, the book gives space to many different voices and viewpoints, along with Jaspreet's own life story.

'Brown Girl Like Me' is like a 'toolkit', a 'call to arms' of sorts, for brown women of all ages, to help them navigate a complex life journey that has to bridge multiple often conflicting cultures, generations, expectations and aspirations.

Jaspreet says, "I always wished there was a guidebook on how to deal with growing up brown, female, marginalised and opinionated, but there was no blueprint at the time. This book is a letter to my younger self and to every brown girl fighting to grasp our own narrative of history and identity."

In Brown Girl Like Me, Jaspreet pulls no punches, tackling complex topics from mental health and menstruation stigma, from feminism to cultural appropriation and much more.

In this agenda-setting debut, Jaspreet asks: How can you be a brown feminist without rejecting your own culture and fitting into what Western feminist standards dictate? How do you remain true to who you are while trying to navigate a white male-dominated workspace? Why are Asian girls the second-highest performing group of students in the country, yet this isn't reflected in wider institutions?

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Little about the author

Also known as Behind the Netra for her poetry and writing, Jaspreet Kaur has performed at prestigious venues including Westminster Abbey, London's Theatre Royal and the House of Lords. A regular commentator on the BBC and Sunday Morning Live, Jaspreet won the Asian Women of Achievement Award and was voted one of the Top 10 Inspirational Sikh Women in the UK. She is an ambassador for The Girls Network and Time to Change and worked with the UN on their He for She campaign.

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iGlobal verdict

The book 'Brown Girl Like Me' is a chilled-out take on the many complexities of life. The book almost reads like a dear friend's voice over a glass of wine. Albeit, taboo topics like embarrassment over one's roots, imposter syndrome, struggling with anxiety and depression aren't easy to share even with the closest friends. It is admirable how Jaspreet has covered such complex subjects in her first book with such effortless candour.

"Earlier that day, I was unpacking textbooks into my locker out of the huge backpack Dad and I bought from Barking market a few weeks earlier. I say huge because it literally felt like a suitcase, the kind of backpack that (as my brother kindly noted) made me look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. It even had wheels . . . Anyway, as I neatly arranged my lovely new sticky-back-plastic-covered books in my locker, I could hear a group of girls sniggering behind me. 'Yeah, she always stinks of curry!' They were referring to the smell of tarka coming from the blazer that I had left in the kitchen the night before. A smell that no amount of Impulse body spray could mask. 'And her hair is so greasy, doesn't she ever wash it!?' I could feel my cheeks burning with embarrassment. I pretended I couldn't hear them and decided not to turn around. With a snigger and shove, the girls howled with laughter and walked away. That's why from that day, and to my mum's heartbreak, I didn't want to oil and plait my hair ever again."

(An excerpt from the book.)

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The book can also become a handbook for the first generation British Indian parents to decode their teenagers and help bridge the steep cultural and generation gap. An entire chapter is dedicated to this topic: 'Mum's the word: Parenthood and raising a brown feminist'.

All brown girls are not the same, nor are our problems. We each have a different story to tell. And yet, in all these individual stories of success and failures, happiness and tears, we are together. 'Brown Girl Like Me' successfully reflects this solidarity and becomes your companion from coffee table to 'awkward dinner table conversations', from a 'hair-wash Sunday' to bedside.

And that is when the book transcends from a memoir to every brown girl's survival guide.

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