It’s giving Oprah/Iyanla meets Sista Souljah.
I’m Not Yelling, authored by Elizabeth Leiba, is not only a guidebook for Black women in corporate spaces, but also a call to arms, and a manual of sorts to help women of the Global Majority live happier, healthier, more authentic lives.
It’s filled with anecdotes and tips on everything from code switching, imposter syndrome, and the politics of Black hair, to microaggressions, finding your voice, and building one’s own table.
This book is for US. The author has described it as her love letter to Black women, and l felt the love in every line. Not just Liz’s love for her community, but also her love of language. She is a writer’s writer.
I already have two copies (one for reading, one for the shelfie, lol), but I’m planning to buy more. It’s a must-read for Black women at every career and life stage, so it will become a regular giftable from me to women I care about.
It was great to see familiar names referenced throughout the pages: Aiko Bethea, Esq., Dana Brownlee, Madison Butler, Ashanti Martin, and more. Many of us follow each other on LinkedIn, so reading the book felt like a family reunion.
But First, The Fine Print
Before I dive more fully into the review, though, a little caveat:
I could hardly believe it when late last year, Liz asked me to pen a few lines for her to use as the foreword to her first book. Like…me?? What an honor to be trusted with that! All I wanted was to do her proud, and reward her trust in me. I hunkered down into deep focus mode for a few days, and then, heart in mouth, sent her what I thought would be the first draft. As soon as she received it, we hopped on the phone, both of us in tears!! She was so happy with it that she sent it straight to the publisher! It’s been mindblowing to see my word in print for real for real, and I am eternally grateful to Liz for the opportunity.
So, this is me letting you know that yes: I wrote the foreword, and also yes: I read the book and I love it. Oh, and I also co-hosted her book launch party! That’s how the sisterhood shows up for each other.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what most captured my attention:
The Title & Cover Art
It’s impossible to *not* be grabbed by the unapologetic title. Like many Black women, I have been accused numerous times of “yelling” and “being extra,” when I am merely speaking, and existing. The book title immediately made me feel seen. And I know that that’s true for others as well. It’s as if all of us who have read and posted about I’m Not Yelling are collectively nodding our heads, giving some side eye, and saying “Exactly. I’m not yelling.”
The subtitle, A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace, is an exhale in itself. Even with decades of corporate experience under my belt, professional spaces still feel like a minefield-filled maze. The subtitle gave me hope that I would learn some tips – from people who look like me – to make my professional journey a little easier. Spoiler alert: the book overdelivers on this.
The sunshine yellow cover is like a distillation of Liz’s personality: bright, bold, cool, artsy, and fun. It features a line drawing of a Black woman with her mane of curls in an updo, and crowned by a headwrap. It’s afrocentric, but not in a hackneyed way. It doesn’t hurt that the drawing is rendered in vermillion—one of my favorite shades of red. The juxtaposition of the bold colors and font with the delicate line work makes the frustrated artist in me happy. The overall effect is one of cultural relevance, joy, and upliftment. As a marketer, I also love that the cover stands out on bookshelves.
Liz is an educator by profession, and it shows. She weaves together historical facts and current contexts to explain the reasons why Black women experience the world the way we do–and provides roadmaps for how we can elevate. And while valid lived experiences are shared, they are always backed up by research. There are literally hundreds of references, and I’m here for it.
One of my favorite chapters is “Imposter Syndrome, or Imposter Treatment?”
This re-frame blew my mind.
Like many of us, I have mindlessly used the term “imposter syndrome” to explain the almost crippling self-doubt that so many Black women experience when navigating white-majority spaces. But once Liz explained that imposter syndrome is actually not a thing, the lightbulb switched all the way on.
Plants cannot thrive in inhospitable environments.
Similarly, Black people cannot thrive in environments that are actively designed to make us fail.
I realized that I had never experienced “imposter syndrome” while I was living in a Black-majority country. There, my excellence was the norm. There, my success was expected. There, nobody doubted my abilities. It was only once I moved to the US and started navigating white-majority spaces that I was constantly questioned, doubted, overlooked, and undercut. Interesting.
“I decided to stop referring to myself as having “imposter syndrome.” The truth of the matter was that I didn’t feel like an imposter. I had been treated like one. I had internalized the message that I was a fraud when I was Black girl magic personified! Not referring to myself as having “imposter syndrome” and walking in the power that…I wasn’t one (and never had been) changed my life.”
Of course, she goes into greater detail, but trust me, this chapter alone is more than worth the “price of admission.”
The Affirmations and Reflections
Anybody who has been following me for a while knows that I LOVE affirmations. I was therefore delighted to discover that each chapter ends with affirmations for readers to use on their healing journey. As Liz explains:
“Positive affirmations don’t embrace a philosophy of toxic positivity. So, it’s important to acknowledge hardship and make space for your feelings, while also calling on your ability to get through them. Being in a state of positivity takes practice, so it’s helpful to repeat affirmations regularly and to put any skepticism on hold…affirmations should be paired with action. Repeating these types of positive affirmations helped me to visualize not only the person I was in the moment but also the person I was evolving to be.”
The chapters all include reflection questions as well, to help readers look inward–where the answers to life’s big questions so often lie.
I’m Not Yelling is much more than a book. It’s a movement. It’s a moment. It’s a lifestyle. Reading it will automatically upgrade your mind, your heart, and your life.
5 Stars. Highly recommend.
I’m Not Yelling is available on Amazon, and all major book retailers.
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Unless otherwise stated, text and images ©Lisa Hurley/Canva
Thank you for the raw and uncut title necessary to examine white supremacy warring against the value of our voices and humanity. Blessings going forward to take all the ground necessary to eradicate this madness and bias in white spaces.
Wow🎶I’m sure glad I read your review. You said it all before I could and very articulately!! It’s truly a movement that joins the ripple to unify the Tsunami of equality and inclusion that’s coming to change how this world moves in unity with what BLACK CULTURE, has been tryna say, since forever. My review is coming soon. Love this book, love this review.