I’m Judging You. Such a provocative title as no one likes to be judged or even to be considered judgemental. So to have author Luvvie Ajayi aka Awesomely Luvvie boldly proclaiming her judgement on life’s peculiarities in her debut book, naturally I had to read this very insightful collection of essays especially as it had the side-eye emoji (my favourite) on the front cover. And I’ve got to say it also made for very amusing times watching people’s reactions when they saw me reading it on the tube 😏
This book is literally the conversations I have with my friends, where we put the world to rights and feel a sense of self satisfaction that if only everyone saw things the way we did then everything would be ok. It is part life observations and personal reflection on us the human race, with a large side order of disdain for those who make life unnecessarily messy. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my inner pettiness rising to level 100, as I side-eyed and kissed my teeth in between laughing out loud on the various topics covered. From reality TV, oversharing on social media, racism, feminisim, sex tapes, to #hashtags, Luvvie puts her judgemental stamp on them all and call us to one thing only and that is To Do-Better. No one including herself escapes judgement. The overall message is that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other, and it’s done in such a way – with a lot of humour and hefty doses of common sense that you have no problem in agreeing with her.
As such it was an easy read for me and although it’s written from an African American perspective, I identified with much that Luvvie writes about especially when she highlights her Nigerian background and the struggle of people mispronouncing her name (I hear you sis, Ghanaians fare no better – in fact anyone with a non-English sounding name), it triggered some memories for me growing up whereby my mother actually changed my name before I started school to a ‘Christian’ name so as to give me an easier time with my classmates. It didn’t work, I still had an African last name and had to work through that drama all the way through to secondary school and beyond.
The are many poignant moments of the book for example the chapter on racism, which is hardly surprising given the amount of people who have died this year alone for merely existing in Black skin. It was possibly the most nuanced and emotional part of the book, as Luvvie mentions by name the people like Sandra Bland whose lives have been ended prematurely because of an institutionally racist system that everyone seems to acknowledge but does little to dismantle. I could feel Luvvie, anger and disgust coming the page in waves, to join my own. The fact that in 2016, even after countless civil rights movements, most notably the ones in the 60s, we are still having to shout that Black lives matter, albeit with a hashtag in front, angers me so much. But you know what I’m happy for that conversation to continue until people get it. It matters, we matter! And we have to keep this conversation alive until things change and we can say ‘Glory, hallelujah!’ amongst other shouts of praise.
On a much lighter note, I personally felt the judgement and Luvvie’s side-eye of shame because I still use a hotmail address instead of the more ‘professionally’ accepted gmail. Maybe it’s a US thing because I don’t see the big deal and I stand by my choices because at the time I got my hotmail address, it was to replace a previous address firstname.lastname@example.org which I rightly figured wouldn’t go down well with prospective employers, and at that time gmail didn’t exist (I’m so old!). Now I have both, but mainly use hotmail. But honestly I don’t care, judge all you want, but know I’m judging you for judging me 😃
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