Synopses & Reviews
When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost is a hardcore dose of post-feminist funk -- written for the post-civil rights, post-feminist, post-soul children of hip-hop. Doing away with the tired victim/oppressor models that often dominate contemporary feminist discourse, this revolutionary book speaks to a generation of women for whom the issues of gender, sex, race, love and relationships are not simple black-and-white terms.
Journalist Joan Morgan isn't afraid to ask tough questions. Here she challenges a feminism that vehemently defends women's reproductive rights but ignores men's lack of reproductive choice. And she refuses to discuss the physical and emotional damage of sexism without examining the utterly foul and unloving ways women sometimes treat each other.
Forthright and controversial, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost offers a feminism committed to "keeping it real." It is that magical intersection where contrary voices meet -- the juncture where "truth is no longer black and white but subtle, intriguing shades of gray."
Kristal Brent Zook Vibe Definitely not your mother's guide to the Equal Rights Amendment....Morgan's reflections are as timely as they are cogent.
Martine Bury Jane It's a bold, cheeky, self-affirming read, and for black women in this society, there's hardly enough affirmation.
Lauryn HillThis book is an important read for all people everywhere. Enjoy!
Kirkus Reviews A debut collection of impassioned essays, written in poetic, flowing prose....Fresh and articulate. Steadily perceptive, shrewdly provocative.
Vanessa Bush Booklist [Morgan] brings a powerful voice to concerns of modern black women.
Ronda Racha Penrice Rap Pages Whether one agrees with Morgan or not, the sister definitely makes you think.
Honey As is the case with a lot of Morgan's work, Chickenheads remains unafraid to "go there" around a few touchy issues....[The book] will definitely engender passionate discussions among readers....Regardless of how interpreted, you gotta give it up to this "yardie gyal" from the Bronx who's brave enough to put her ideas out there so that the rest of us home-grrrls can all together start climbing toward wholeness.
Lori L. Tharps Ms. magazine Morgan tussles with the perceived contradictions of being black, female, fly, and feminist -- from the myth of the "strongblackwoman" to chickenhead envy (coveting the perks of women who live off rich men)....Morgan has penned a vibrant new tome on a taboo topic....The book offers a fresh alternative to accepted notions about black womanhood.
Lauryn Hill This book is an important read for all people everywhere. Enjoy!
Michael J. Rochon The Philadelphia Tribune When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost...is gaining nationwide acclaim for adding a fresh, idiosyncratic point of view -- the voice of a new generation -- to the oft-debated saga. Painstakingly straddling the line which separates street smarts from book intelligence, Morgan offers 240 pages worth of commentary on what it is like for a Black woman to come of age, Gen-X style....While most Gen-Xers claim to be "keepin' it real," Morgan's new book instead shows that she's making the conscious choice to "keep it right." And not only by flipping and bouncing words and phrases that reflect today's popular culture, this new age feminist shows and proves that the day in which James Brown screams "it's a man's world" might be finally coming to a dawn.
Cindy Fuchs Philadelphia City Paper A journalist by trade and outspoken black feminist by inclination, Joan Morgan has style to burn....When Morgan brings it, she's funny, fierce, and yes feminist....Morgan insists that the hip-hop generation can set its own goals -- emotional, spiritual, social and political. Time to move on, and Morgan's leading the way.
Morgan offers a feminism committed to "keeping it real"--where "truth is no longer black and white but subtle, intriguing shades of gray."
Still fresh, funny, and irreverent after eighteen years, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost gives voice to the most intimate thoughts of the post-Civil Rights, post-feminist, post-soul generation.
Joan Morgan offers a provocative and powerful look into the life of the modern black woman: a complex world in which feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men, where women who treasure their independence frequently prefer men who pick up the tab, where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than forty percent of the population, and where black women are forced to make sense of a world where truth is no longer black and white but subtle, intriguing shades of gray.
A new voice of the hip-hop generation speaks out about the reality of being a black woman in America today.
In this fresh, funky, and ferociously honest book, award-winning journalist Joan Morgan bravely probes the complex issues facing African-American women in today's world: a world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men; where women who treasure their independence often prefer men who pick up the tab; and where the deluge of babymothers and babyfathers reminds black women who long for marriage that traditional nuclear families are a reality for less than 40 percent of the African-American population.
About the Author
Joan Morgan began her writing career at The Village Voice. A staff writer at Vibe magazine for three years, she has also written extensively about music and gender issues for The New York Times, Ms., Madison, Interview, and Spin magazine, where she was a contributing editor and columnist. Morgan is presently a contributing writer for Essence and Notorious. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.
Table of Contents
intro.: dress up
from fly-girls to bitches and hos
strongblackwomen -n- endangeredblackmen...this is not a love story
one last thing before I go
Reading Group Guide
TOUCHSTONE READING GROUP GUIDE
When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
1. Morgan says that, more than any other generation before, this generation needs a feminism committed to "keeping it real." How does this translate day-to-day, person-to-person? Is it possible for a woman to be a good feminist and not pay for her own dinner, not hold the door open, or not become a master mechanic, as Morgan's feminism prescribes? Are you a feminist? What does Morgan mean when she says that "the empowerment of the black community [has] to include its women" or that "sexism [stands] stubbornly in the way of black men and women loving each other or sistas loving themselves"?
2. Hip-hop and rap have come under attack lately on many fronts. Is it possible to like this music despite the fact that it contains so much misogyny? Are you able to listen to the music and use it as a tool to understand how the community works, as Morgan advocates, or would it be better to silence its violent content?
3. Morgan says, "We're all winners when space exists for brothers to honestly state and explore the roots of their pain and subsequently their misogyny, sans judgment." Besides rap and hip-hop, what are some effective ways, or forums, in which black men and women can "lovingly address the uncomfortable issues of [their] failing self-esteem, the ways [they] sexualize and objectify [themselves, and their] confusion about sex and love"? How about ways to address the "unhealthy, unloving, unsisterly" ways black women treat one another? What are some things you regret doing, and how would you change your words and actions?
4. The author says that, by consenting to appear in raunchy music videos, certain women only promote sexist images of themselves and that there will always be women who trade on their sexuality to get the person (or the "protection, wealth, and power") they want. Do you agree that young black women share in the responsibility for hip-hop's antiwomen attitudes? Do you believe that women who value their erotic power over all else stand to seriously damage their self-esteem? Are there other ways, besides trading on sex, to attract the opposite sex? Is there a bit of Chickenhead in all of us?
5. What do you think of Morgan's notion that the popular urban myth of the "ENDANGEREDBLACKMAN" (EBM) should also apply to black women, who suffer from breast cancer and AIDS and poverty and incarceration at rates much greater than white women? What does Morgan mean when she states that ENDANGEREDBLACKMEN "succumb to being ENDANGERED" and that "EBM are wholly incompatible with daughters raised to be strong women"?
6. Does the notion of the "STRONGBLACKWOMAN" empower you or oppress you? Do you agree that contemporary black women perpetuate the myth of the STRONGBLACKWOMAN to boost their fractured self-esteems? How do they do this? Do you believe that black men are less capable of surviving the afflictions of life than black women?
7. Throughout the book, the author emphasizes that lack of respect is a problem that plagues the black community. Do black women love, yet not respect, black men? What do you think of Morgan's idea that women shouldn't spend time with other women who don't respect men and that "participating in...men-bashing sessions means...commiserating with sistas who are just as clueless as [you are] about how to have a healthy relationship"?
8. Since black women have provided everything for their families for so long, is there any room to believe that men can be relied on and won't drop the ball? What can mothers do to affect their sons' abilities to respect women? Author Marita Golden says, "The generations-old backlog of anger that African-American men and women hoard and revisit and unleash upon one another...becomes a script that our sons and daughters memorize....Only when our sons and daughters know that forgiveness is real, existent, and that those who love them practice it, can they form bonds as men and women that really can save and change our community." How can we practice forgiving one another? Can you forgive someone today?
9. Morgan implies that one of the reasons there are so many black women heading single-parent families is because they feel they have little chance of being a part of a traditional two-parent family. Do you agree? Is having a child something you have to do because you have no choice? Do you agree that people should be having discussions with their partners about whether or not they want to have children before they sleep together? If they can't even discuss it, should they even be having sex? What are some ways two people can open a dialogue about this?
10. What are "male reproductive rights"? Why is it so easy to condemn men for not offering full support when they find out that a woman they've been with is pregnant? Can you imagine what it would be like to be pregnant by a man whose child you don't want but he does, and to not have any say about it?
11. Morgan was told that black women don't have time for feminism (or don't "have time for all that shit," to be exact). Where does this ambivalence toward feminism come from? Is it an outgrowth of "black women's historic tendency to blindly defend any black man who seems to be under attack from white folks"? Do you agree that "acknowledging the rampant sexism in [the black] community...means relinquishing the comforting illusion that black men and women are a unified front"?
12. In the chapter "STRONGBLACKWOMEN," the author shares a Yoruba fable that helped her figure out what she needed to make her happy. Have you had to learn how to put your needs first, as Morgan did? Can you share some ways that you have done this?