THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE: Barbara Blake-Hannah signs copies of her eye-opening new book, Growing Out, at a launch last Thursday at the Bob Marley Museum.“It’s not by chance that the book is called Growing Out, because even if she didn’t have money, her hair had to be beautiful,” shared Beverly Manley, referring to her longtime girlfriend Barbara Blake-Hannah, who was launching her new book last Thursday at the Bob Marley Museum in St. Andrew. “It’s also pleasant to know that the idea for the book is coupled with her journey of self.”
Indeed, judging from what seems to be the book title’s allusion to hair growth, a lush attribute for which Blake-Hannah is known, one might immediately chalk up Growing Out to a meditation on hair, natural beauty, self-acceptance and prejudice. But as the author makes clear, it’s doubly a metaphorical reference to “my Black consciousness,” written during her sojourn in the United Kingdom at a time of revolution in hair, hairspeak and social awakening. As such Growing Out is Blake-Hannah’s wry compendium of her life-altering experiences, wit and vivid storytelling, complete with delightful anecdotes of her time at home in Jamaica and 1960s UK, where she became Britain’s first Black television journalist.
Even so, as Manley notes in her blurb on the book’s rear cover, Growing Out has universal appeal. “This book is essential to Black people everywhere, particularly those… in the search for who we are, for acceptance, for our identities.”