Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Baltimore Black Author's Memoir Gets National Recognition

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"...a graciously and generously-provided tool for would-be allies who seek to eliminate, in themselves and their communities, the personal and institutional racism that causes and perpetuates colorism."

Nationwide -- Baltimore-based writer Petula Caesar's first book, a memoir entitled She's Such A Bright Girl: An American Story has been recognized nationally. A panel of award-winning writers recognized her book as one of the top works submitted for consideration to North Street Book Prize, which honors the top self-published books in the nation in categories ranging from poetry to literary fiction to children's books.

Out of nearly one thousand entries, Petula's book finished among the 11 awarded winners, receiving an honorable mention in the Non-Fiction category. In talking about the book, the judging panel described the book as "an exploration of the intersections of racism, classism, and sexism with a focus on colorism within the author's nuclear family," adding that the book "urgently needs a wider audience...this book should be included in high school and undergraduate classes on racism and sexism. It's that good. It's that important."

(Read the full review at and her book have been the impetus for several passionate and at times tense discussions about racism, colorism, classism and privilege that she facilitates at local library branches and in other community spaces.

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She's also publicly shared some of the more humorous elements of her struggles as well, most recently at the popular quarterly event Stoop Storytellers. Petula's story of mistaken identity was a big hit at The Senator Theater this past October, drawing laughs and uncomfortable silence from the hundreds intently listening to her story.

"I relish that tension that happens when people hear about, or read about my story," Petula says. "That tension, that discomfort, that weird silence that happens when people are struggling with their feelings around a subject is absolutely necessary.

We cannot begin to do the incredibly difficult internal work of addressing our feelings around race, color, class, privilege, and so on without that discomfort. If my book, and the conversations it leads to don't make you uncomfortable at times, angry at times, or even sad at times, I've done a poor job as a writer, as a facilitator of difficult conversations, and as a storyteller in general."

Learn more about Petula and her book at You can hear her Stoop story in her Media Room, along with her interview at Baltimore’s NPR station WYPR-FM.

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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