Token Black Girl
by Danielle Prescod
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Pub Date 01 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 18 Oct 2022
Racial identity, pop culture, and delusions of perfection collide in an eye-opening and refreshingly frank memoir by fashion and beauty insider Danielle Prescod.
Danielle Prescod grew up Black in an elite and overwhelmingly white community, her identity made more invisible by the whitewashed movies, television, magazines, and books she and her classmates voraciously consumed. Danielle took her cue from the world around her and aspired to shrink her identity into that box, setting increasingly poisonous goals. She started painful and damaging chemical hair treatments in elementary school, began depriving herself of food when puberty hit, and tried to control her image through the most unimpeachable, impeccable fashion choices.
Those obsessions led her to relentlessly pursue a career in beauty and fashion—the eye of the racist and sexist beauty standard storm. Assimilating was hard, but she was practiced. And she was an asset. Their “Token Black Girl.” Toxic, sure. But Danielle was striving to achieve social cache and working her way up the ladder of coveted media jobs, and she looked great, right? So what if she had to endure executives’ questions like “What was it like to drive to school from the ghetto?” Or coworkers’ eager curiosity to know if her parents were on welfare. But after decades of burying her emotions, resentment, and true self, Danielle turned a critical eye inward and confronted the factors that motivated her self-destructive behaviors.
Sharp witted and bracingly candid, Token Black Girl unpacks the adverse effects of insidious white supremacy in the media—both unconscious and strategic—to tell a personal story about recovery from damaging concepts of perfection, celebrating identity, and demolishing social conditioning.
A Note From the Publisher
“A trenchant, honest, and unique memoir about body image, fashion, and Blackness.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Former BET style director Prescod lays bare the toxic scaffolding of the fashion and beauty industries in her piercing debut…As she reckons with [these] small- and large-scale oppressions, Prescod maintains a striking self-awareness and even hope that these problems have solutions. The result is sure to galvanize those who are looking to make change from within fraught spaces.” —Publishers Weekly
“With wit and the sharp eye of a woman who has lived through it, Prescod’s memoir takes the reader into the places and institutions of privilege where the idea of the Token Black Girl thrives. Literally shrinking herself to conform to the expectations of those around her, Prescod’s experience feels both unsettlingly familiar and incendiary. This is an essential read to understand how beauty standards and media industry affect Black women in America.” —Gabrielle Union, author of You Got Anything Stronger?
“Sometimes it feels like we are just beginning to discuss the full extent of the Black experience in America, and with a frankness and a brave ability to stare down her own truth, Danielle Prescod has vividly detailed a portrait of Black womanhood that feels so familiar and yet so rarely discussed. It’s time! In her firsthand account of what it’s like to live as a Black person in the middle of whiteness, Danielle suffers no fools and holds back no punches as she explores the humor, WTFs, and emotional repercussions of coming of age as she did. As a memoirist and cultural critic, she deftly keeps things from feeling like a collection of the aha-ha moments you have in therapy, and instead, through her experience, offers people a way out of their token Black friend role (self-inflicted, structural, or otherwise.)” —Allison P. Davis, senior writer for the Cut
“In an honest, relatable, and enlightening fashion, Danielle eloquently speaks about an experience many of us know too well. This pointed memoir reveals the struggle of being a Black woman in a world that tends to praise everything opposite of what you are. This is necessary reading for all women navigating social constructs while simultaneously learning to love themselves out loud.” —Taylor Rooks, Emmy Award–nominated sports journalist and host of the Bleacher Report
“Danielle Prescod candidly shares her experience from growing up in a predominately white environment to then working in a white-dominant industry and how those experiences impacted her identity formation throughout the years. Her story made me feel seen as it is honest and relatable and will leave you mulling over your own experience with self-discovery in a world where we all strive for perfection and to ‘fit in.’ Token Black Girl is a must-read for anyone who has felt like a ‘token’ in society.” —Hannah Bronfman, entrepreneur, author, and founder of HBFIT
“With her richly introspective debut, Token Black Girl, Danielle Prescod reveals devastating and lingering childhood traumas in evidentiating the racist structures central to the psychological gymnastics that the Black community must navigate in order to exist and thrive in the United States.” —Tamu McPherson, fashion consultant and All The Pretty Birds founder
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