In Benilde Little’s deeply personal new book, “Welcome to My Breakdown: A Memoir,” the best-selling author of “Good Hair,” and a few other memorable novels, bares her soul.
And best of all, she’s fearless about it. In a recent interview, I asked the former Essence magazine editor if she struggled with how much to share.
“I got to a point where I didn’t want to live with a mask. We present in a certain way that usually does not line up with who we are inside. We need intimacy and to be vulnerable. We need transparency. As humans, we need to be connected, and that’s hard to do if you’re not showing up. I had that connection with my Mom. When that’s gone, you realize it; you feel this hole. My good friend Monique couldn’t believe my decision to share so much in the book and she asked me if I was nervous about it. I got to a point where NOT telling all was scary,” she reveals.
“Breakdown” is a first-hand account of Little’s breakdown; it is what she encountered before and after losing her mother – her guiding light with whom she shared a seamless bond that transcended life’s tests, disappointments and joys.
This “momoir” also comments on the challenges of staying true to oneself, one’s career and one’s independence in the face of marriage, children and aging.
Fans, and new readers alike, will enjoy, once again, her usual flair for great story telling. And they’ll applaud her courage for making it out of the fire, so to speak, and putting herself back together again.
But don’t call her Superwoman. Her message to Black women is to “stop being Strong Black Women.”
“It’s hurting us,” she says. We don’t give ourselves permission to say ‘I need help’ or ‘this is hard’ or ‘I need to sit down and take care of myself.’ It’s killing us. Whether it’s physical or mental.”
She continues, “I look forward to having real conversations with women – listening to people’s stories. Giving people permission. When one is revealing, it gives another permission to reveal. We want freedom to be who we are. What it is you want to have? Maybe you want a house in the suburbs or a tiny apartment in Harlem. Plug in to your own voice and don’t worry about anyone else’s.”