"This kind of feels like the first date...."- Gabrielle Union.
Actress, author, and activist, Gabrielle Union, is an open book. In Union's brilliant and well-written book of short stories, We're Going to Need More Wine, she is unapologetic throughout each chapter and dives into her relationships, casual flings, marriages, traumas, fears, and even losing her virginity.
Union has nothing to hide, and at 45, why would she? Union makes us all feel like one of her girls, from beginning to end, whether it's talking about her father's affair that ruined her parents' marriage, or her struggles growing up as one of the only black girls in her upper-middle class, white suburban neighborhood.
Union's stories not only shine a light on what it's like to be a woman in Hollywood, but most importantly, shine a light on the struggles she endures as a black woman in her everyday life. Her humorous tone when discussing topics like sex positivity and adolescence is refreshing, and brings her closer to her readers with her undeniable frankness.
Apart from sex ed, Union bares it all, and shows us her naked, authentic self. Nothing is off limits for Union, whether it’s describing her past rebellious ways, or some of her past experiences as a mean girl in the industry, a time where she tore women down as a way to deflect her insecurities and self-doubt. Make no mistake, the last thing Union is, is perfect. But who is? Instead of wallowing in self-pity and shame, she owns up to all of her past mistakes, and makes the most of every single page, grabbing our attention, and giving us the space to deal with our own self-doubts.
Each chapter dives into all of the different sides of Union that co-exist. While Union is overall strong and content with her blackness, she still feels as though she has to prove herself despite all of the successes she's had, and admits to avoiding the sun as a young girl, as a tactic to maintain a lighter complexion. Although she described how she works with young children today, and encourages them to love their blackness, she also described her own insecurities with being the only black woman in her wealthy neighborhood in Miami, admitting that often times, her neighbor's stares make her uncomfortable, causing her to relive her insecurities as a child. Union describes her inner demons when discussing the trauma of being raped while working at Payless and the aftermath that still haunts her today, while later on in the book, describing her very healthy relationship with sex over the years and her advice to young women which is to have more sex.
Although much of her stories were filled with humor, Union spoke with caution when she described some of her own fears about how she raises her privileged black boys. Union described the hardest part about raising black boys in a wealthy community, and how hard it is to explain to them that no matter what they do, their entire existence is viewed as a threat by society. Union has helped raise her stepsons to be confident in their blackness but to remain cautious and never to step out of line.
Although Union did not always accept herself at a young age, she shows how far she's grown, and how hard she works every day to become a better woman. Union is clear with her readers that she does not have it all figured out, and like us, she has a long way to go, but unlike most, she has made peace with her past and lives her truth. Union’s truth not only speaks to young girls around the world, but speaks to millions of young black girls who have had a tumultuous past, or feel they are tackling the world alone.
Union pours us a glass a wine, and shows us the many different sides of a strong black woman. If you are struggling with your identity, or unable to put the pieces of your life back together, pour yourself a glass of wine, and let Gabrielle Union take care of you.