Book details

Longing to Tell

Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy

Author: Tricia Rose

Longing to Tell

Longing to Tell


About This Book

The Sexual Lives of Black Women, In Their Own Words

In a culture driven by sexual and racial imagery, very few honest conversations about race, gender, and sexuality actually...

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Book Details

The Sexual Lives of Black Women, In Their Own Words

In a culture driven by sexual and racial imagery, very few honest conversations about race, gender, and sexuality actually take place. In their absence, commonly held perceptions of black women as teenage mothers, welfare recipients, mammies, or exotic sexual playthings remain unchanged. For fear that telling their stories will fulfill society's implicit expectations about their sexuality, most black women have retreated into silence. Tricia Rose seeks to break this silence and jump-start a dialogue by presenting, for the first time, the sexual testimonies of black women. Spanning a broad range of ages, levels of education, and socioeconomic backgrounds, twenty women, in their own words, talk with startling honesty about sex, love, family, relationships, and intimacy. Their stories dispel prevailing myths and provide revealing insights into how black women navigate the complex terrain of sexuality. Nuanced, rich, and powerful, Longing to Tell will be required reading for anyone interested in issues of race and gender.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

“Tricia Rose's Longing To Tell is a powerful and pioneering work. For the first time we hear the painful and poignant voices of black women in all their humanity and complexity. Do not miss this pathblazing book!” —Cornel West, Princeton University and author of Race Matters

“By breaking a public silence, Professor Rose and her storytellers here have done us all a great service. This is one of the first brave steps in beginning to fill in the obliterated stories of black women's many sexualities.” —Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth

“In Longing to Tell, Tricia Rose shares something all too rare: a good conversation with trusted women friends. The emotional power and raw poetry of these candid accounts compels our attention while gently nudging us to contemplate the larger narrative of race, class, color, sexuality and gender within which each intimate story unfolds.” —Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

“If Freud called woman 'the dark continent of man', then the sexuality of black women has truly been the dark continent of the African-American tradition. To read so very much of African-American literature before 1970 is to presume that black women did not experience sexual intimacy, or even discuss it. This pioneering collection by Tricia Rose is as significant to the African-American autobiographical tradition as the depiction of Janie's evolving sexuality in Their Eyes Were Watching God was to African-American literature.” —Henry Louis Gates

“Brave, disturbing, cathartic. Longing to Tell adds to our knowledge of the enduring impact of slavery and reminds us that we have to be the shepherds of our own healing. Rose has given us an important work.” —Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva

Longing To Tell is a landmark book in black letters and scholarship. In its pages, for the first time, we hear the loving, bracing, hurting, humorous, wise, angry, hopeful--and above all honest--voices of black woman speaking about sexuality and intimacy. Rose's introduction and epilogue brilliantly charts the challenging terrain that black women must navigate in embracing healthy and mature sexual selves. Longing To Tell is bound to be a classic of its kind: it dispels myths, stereotypes, and tales about black women while giving us the truth in all its glorious and grievous colors.” —Michael Eric Dyson, author of Why I Love Black Women

“Professor Tricia Rose's is a brave, honest, groundbreaking book on Black women's sexuality, from their own vantage points. If there is one book you must read on the subject, Longing to Tell is certainly the one. The intimate lives of African American women have been shrouded in secrecy or wrapped in myth. Tricia Rose's oral histories capture the complexity of an aspect of our lives about which there has been too much silence. We need more stories like these.” —Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, Spelman College and Co-Author (with Johnnetta Betsch Cole) of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women's Equality in African American Communities

“Tricia Rose has bravely opened the door to honest discussion among Black women about who we love and what we desire in the deepest places in our lives. Longing to Tell is a treasure.” —Barbara Smith, author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom

“In Longing to Tell, Tricia Rose enables us to listen as black women from diverse backgrounds candidly discuss in narratives that range from humorous, to shocking and heartbreaking, the affects of racism and sexism on their intimate lives. This valuable book breaks a silence we can no longer afford to ignore.” —Derrick Bell, author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

About the Creators

Longing to Tell

Longing to Tell