Intimate Conversation with author Jennifer Baszile
Welcome readers! Today we will meet author Jennifer Baszile. Jennifer will introduce us to her new book as well. The Black Girl Next Door offers readers a candid insider’s look at America’s greatest challenge: integration. Jennifer Baszile speaks for the generation of children who, in the 1970s and 1980s, sacrificed their childhoods to make integration a reality—one soccer game and school dance at a time. It describes the uncharted territory of intimate race relations that children had to navigate for themselves because adults, raised in the era of segregation, could not understand.
The Black Girl Next Door adds a new dimension to the story of the Black American Dream as it explores one family’s attempt to create a new kind of girlhood out of nothing but their best hopes.
Like many other African Americans, I grew up in a family who believed that if you survived painful experiences, it was best not to look back. But I discovered tremendous healing and freedom in confronting those experiences. I write to understand where I’ve been and where we have been as a people. Writing is my calling and my divine purpose. I write to inspire, uplift, and encourage my readers.
EDC: Jennifer, finish this sentence: I am Powerful because...
JB: I am Powerful because I have grown into loving acceptance of myself which allows me to love others with willing heart.
EDC Discussion Question: "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Was there ever a point in your career, when how your books were perceived, didn't match the theory? And how did you change the facts?
JB: As a black girl next door, the facts of my black experience didn’t match the theory presented in my textbooks and on television. I am a writer to transform both the facts and the theories of black girls, black women, and black people.
EDC: Where are you from?
JB: I was born and raised in southern California. I spent most of my youth in the predominately white suburb of Palos Verdes Estates.
EDC: Who are your two main characters in The Black Girl Next Door and what do you like most about them?
JB: Although I say funny things, I’m not a character. My book is a memoir, so I am the main figure. The Jennifer in the book is brave, sad, and speaks her mind. My father, Barry is a towering figure in the book. He is extremely complicated and I connect most with his emotional honesty.
EDC: What makes your book stand out and would entice a reader pick it up?
JB: The Black Girl Next Door is the untold story of America’s greatest transformation: integration. We all know that black women have always performed mighty work, but the black girls of my generation made a set of sacrifices that have been mostly invisible. Readers should pick up this book to embrace a difficult but transformative moment in the struggle for freedom. Readers should pick up this book to celebrate ourselves and see how far we’ve come.
EDC: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
JB: I want readers to understand the lived experience of integration from the inside out .I would like readers to see that we can engage the most challenging parts of our past and be uplifted, rather than undone, by them.
EDC: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer? How did you do it?
JB: My most significant achievement as a writer has been completing this book. I birthed this book in the trenches of my life. For the first six months, I worked full-time as a college professor, had a young child, and was in the midst of a crumbling marriage. On top of that, I learned that my father had a rare an aggressive form of cancer.
I cried at the computer on many occasions but drew strength from the hope that maybe the finished book would make readers feel less isolated in their own lives. Through the roughest days, I remained focused on my story. I wrote in the mornings before work, after I put my son to sleep and whenever I felt overwhelmed, which was nearly all the time. I also discovered several trusted readers and friends who encouraged me.
EDC: What advice would you give a new writer? Would you change anything about your journey?
JB: I’d give new writers the same advice my father gave me: “Tell your story.” Mine was a painful, but transformative journey. I’m a braver woman for having taken it, so I can’t wish that it had been different.
EDC: What can we expect from you in the future?
JB: I am working on the sequel to The Black Girl Next Door.
Thank you Jennifer for stoping by EDC Creations and sharing the news about your new book with us.
Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations