‘Dear Ijeawele’ Offers Feminist Advice for Black Women

Book Review

by: Kondwani Fidel Special to the AFRO
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After reading {Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions} by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, I believe that this is a mandatory read for women young and old. I gained a sense of freedom, a freedom from societal boundaries and the iron grip that it had on my thoughts.

Note: I am a 23-year-old Black single man without children. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche wrote this book as a letter to her friend Ijeawele about her thoughts on feminism and suggestions that will assist her in raising her daughter “differently, trying to create a fair world for men and women.”

A fairer world Adiche has made it. As an artist, many of us have the same idea that “If my art work helps out one person, than my mission is complete.” This book gave me the tools to not only envision a fairer world for everyone, but it also helped me erase the everyday misogynistic language that we use but don’t realize the hurtful implications of. I can use these tools to teach others how to help and advance the world, through my art. Adiche broke her suggestions into fifteen parts. Below is what I believe are the most powerful pieces of advice from the book.

“Never apologize for working. You love what you do, and loving what you do is great gift to give your child.”

“[Your husband] should do everything that biology allows—which is everything but breastfeeding. Sometimes mothers, so conditioned to be all and do all, are complicit in diminishing the role of the father.”

“I wonder now, wistfully, if the little girl would have turned out to be a revolutionary engineer, had she been given a chance to explore that helicopter…Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our happiness.”

“You either believe in the fully equality of men and women or you do not.

“Teach her to love books…If all else fails, pay her to read. Reward her.”

“Women actually don’t need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.”

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement.”

“Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.”

“Teach her about privilege and inequality and the importance of giving dignity to everyone who does not mean her harm.”

“Let her know that slim white women are beautiful, and that non-slim, non-white women are beautiful.”

“Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.”

“Talk to her about sex, and start early.”

“Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take.”

“She must know and understand that people walk different paths in the world, and that as long as those paths do not harm others, they are valid paths that she must respect.”

My advice would be to go read the rest of the book.

Kondwani Fidel is a writer, speaker, and spoken word poet. Fidel is the author of Raw Wounds and is a member of Ivy Bookshop. He is from, and currently lives in Baltimore, Md.  All book reviewed in this column can be purchased at The Ivy Bookshop, located at 6080 Falls Rd, near Lake Ave in Mt Washington.  For more information about book club discounts or upcoming author events please go to theivybookshop.com or call us at 410-377-2966.

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