This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope by Shayla Lawson

Updated: Sep 5

Rating - 7/10


I would like to say a big thanks to HarperCollins Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy of this dope book! This is Major by Shayla Lawson comes out on June 30th, 2020. When I initially saw the bold and bright cover of this book and the title, I was like hells yes! I have read what this book is all about. I’m always all about lifting up my fellow black sisters especially during this crucial time we are in, now more than ever, it is important to showcase and support all the wonderful black authors we have out there that may normally never get the exposure they deserve, and hear what they have to say. This is Major does not disappoint.

This is Major is a memoir of an in-depth collection of 17 personal essays of the celebration, fierceness, resilience and richness of black girls and their cultures in the US. Lawson's bold and powerful read is an exploration of her own suburban upbringing, mixed together with pop culture observations, politics and history throughout black civilization, and the incredible and amazing ways that black girls and women have influenced mainstream society. Lawson takes on issues such as workplace microaggressions, racist stereotypes of her hometown in Kentucky, as well as the various places she has traveled to throughout her life and much more. This is Major places black women front and center through their styles, stories, art, beauty and explores their dopeness and how Major they truly are. You may not know who Shayla Lawson is, but you soon will after reading this awesome book.

This was a great read. Especially being a black girl myself, it was amazing reading about how damn dope they really are. Shayla Lawson’s memoir, was a very raw and true telling of the experiences that she goes through and the standards of which most black women experience throughout their lives. I really liked the different essays within the book and some of the titles were just awesome! In each essay she explores that particular subject matter and mixes in her own personal experiences throughout her own life, mixing in historical figures, and the many influential black women who have inspired her, as well as many other black girls throughout the course of history. For example, in the essays titled, ‘Black Girl Magic’, she explores what that term means, it's origins, stereotypes, and the many women that have influenced her, and also sharing in depth stories from her life. I could definitely relate to the ‘No, My First Name Ain’t Whoopi’ essay. Why in the world do almost all dark girls get compared to Whoopi Goldberg?! Do you know how many times people have said the same about me? That essay hit the nail on the head. I honestly enjoyed a lot of the essays on this. Some spoke to me more than others did, but all in all, I loved them. Some of my favorites essays were, ‘Black Girl Hipster’, ‘Black Lives Matter’, 'Tammy from HR’, ‘Diana Ross is Major’, and her last one that lists amazing black women throughout our history titled, ‘& Just in Case You Forgot Who I Am. I Am’. A few of her essays definitely sounded like poems to me, given that Shayla Lawson is a poet, they were immensely riveting to read.

A lot of black girls would be able to relate to Lawson’s life and experiences. I know I definitely did! I also appreciated how current some of the subject matters were in this book. Lawson mentions a great deal of black women that are still influencing us now, such as SZA, Lizzo, Lauryn Hill, Solange, and many more. She delves into the dating life of a black girl and the stereotypes and challenges they face in the dating world and how they are perceived through others’ eyes. I also learned quite a bit especially the roots of the term ‘Hipster’ explained in the ‘Black Hipster Girl’ essay. I also adored the Diana Ross section of this book! I actually didn’t know a lot about her earlier life and this book has made me want to research Diana Ross’s life and watch her movie Mahogany which was released in 1975. Diana Ross is truly and will remain an icon to so many black girls and women. I admire Lawson for letting us into her life and writing about her personal experiences and these wonderful black women who have shaped our history. It made me appreciate being a strong black female myself.

There is definitely something to take away from each essay, even though some are better than others, depending on your point of view, this is a tremendously relevant read for any black girl in 2020. It’s a fierce, refreshing, empowering, in your face, homage to black girl excellence and that Major *Black Girl Magic*. You also do not have to be a black girl to read this by the way, it’s an informative read for anyone who wants to truly know first hand what it feels like to be black girl in the US.

In case you’re wondering what Major means, it’s an adjective used to describe something to the highest level of awesome, fierce, savage or just freakin' out of this world!

If you are into poetry, definitely check out some of Lawson’s awesome work on her website here.

Read it, and share it.

Genre: Non Fiction | Memoir | Biography

Publication Date: June 30, 2020


The perfect theme song to compliment this book for me and to pay homage to the 'Love songs for Thots' essay, my pick would definitely be (and I love this music video) : The Weekend by SZA




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