Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Kristie Robin Johnson has lived nearly her whole life in small town Georgia, as did five generations of African American women before her beginning with a slave, her oldest known ancestor. In High Cotton, Johnson explores the social and economic consequences of her lineage, drawing on pivotal moments from her own experience to illuminate the lived reality of a daughter of the Deep South.
Johnson unapologetically describes a life that falls below the standards of black respectability, that of an unmarried young mother, an addict’s daughter, a college dropout, welfare recipient, and willful sinner. The voice in High Cotton is a cry from within the masses. Johnson stretches out long brown fingers as far as they will reach to barely skim the first, crucial rung of the ladder to success, that so-called American dream. She exposes the soft underbelly of black girl magic, celebrating black life in all its glorious vulnerability.
The essays in High Cotton contain all the complication of a post-civil rights era, post-women’s liberation, pre-millennial black woman living in the modern South, conjuring universal truths every reader will recognize.