Having It All?: Black Women and Success

Veronica Chambers

Doubleday, 2003

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

A behind-the-scenes look into the lives of successful middle- and upper-middle class African American women, the groundbreaking Having it All? is sure to spark discussions from cocktail parties to boardrooms.

In a single generation, black women have made extraordinary strides academically, professionally, and financially. They've entered the workplace at a far greater rate than white women; increased their enrollment in law schools and graduate programs by 120 percent; and many are now running top companies, or in some cases, the country. Isn't that enough? Not necessarily. With sharp insight, award-winning journalist Veronica Chambers explores the challenges and stereotypes she and other African American women continue to endure, and answers the question most often posed to her: What does success mean for black women?

Twenty-first century black women draw their inspiration from a wide range of sources: Claire Huxtable to Audrey Hepburn, snowboarding to basketball, Gloria Steinem to bell hooks. They choose what they like. Yet they are misunderstood by mainstream America and lack an accurate portrayal in the media of their lives. Having It All? interweaves the thoughts and reflections of more than fifty women who occupy this territory. The voices range from Thelma Golden, chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, to a Silicon Valley executive, to medical and legal professionals, and stay-at-home "mocha moms."

Successful black women today want it all: marriage, motherhood, engaging work, and prosperity. The difference is that they come to the table with the strength, courage and wisdom of black women ancestors who-did-it-all, even when they didn't-have-it-all. What has gone so undocumented by the media is that modern black women are coming up with creative, satisfying answers to the juggling act that all women face.

Veronica Chambers chronicles this topic for the first time in her absorbing, riveting and groundbreaking book Having It All? 

“Chambers set out to interview 50 black women with ‘enough disposable income to live a middle-class lifestyle,’ to find out what having it all meant to them. What are the clichés and obstacles they come up against, what kinds of sacrifices are they making? The results are fascinating…Chambers’ is an uplifting book, chock-full of role models. Real ones. Like Chambers herself.”
Los Angeles Times

“Chambers nicely weaves historical and literary anecdotes into her insightful narrative. . . . the book lends a panoramic effect to such figures as former Whitney curator Thelma Golden, television host Star Jones, Barbara Bush’s former press secretary Anna Perez, Anita Hill, and the growing population of stay-at-home moms.”
Publisher's Weekly

“An absorbing look at the Clair Huxtables of the world….As journalist Chambers ponders the extraordinary gains made by black women, she also underscores the issues unique to this group. While many of her subjects experience both gender and cultural isolation within the workplace, they are also isolated within their own families, often being the first to go to college, the first to attend graduate school, the first to own a second home…A fine appraisal of the women in the growing African-American middle and upper classes.”
Kirkus Reviews