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Don't Let It Get You Down

Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body

A powerful and provocative collection of essays that offers poignant reflections on living between society’s most charged, politicized, and intractably polar spaces—between black and white, rich and poor, thin and fat.

Savala Trepczynski knows what it means to live in the in-between. Descended from a Black and Mexican father and a white mother, Trepczynski’s light complexion has always contrasted with her kinky hair and broad nose to make her mixed-race identity obvious, for better and worse. At her mother’s encouragement, she began her first diet at the age of three and has been painfully thin and truly fat, multiple times. She has experienced both the discomfort of poverty and the ease of wealth.

It is these liminal spaces—of race, class, and body type—that the essays in Don’t Let It Get You Down excavate, presenting a clear and nuanced understanding of our society’s most intractable points of tension. The twelve essays that comprise this collection are rich with unforgettable anecdotes, and are as humorous and as full of Trepczynski’s appetites as they are of anxieties. The result is lyrical and magnetic.

In “On Dating White Guys While Me,” Trepczynski realizes her early romantic pursuits of rich, preppy white guys weren’t about preference, but about self-erasure. In “Don’t Let it Get You Down,” we traverse the cyclical richness and sorrow of being Black in America as Black children face police brutality, “large Black females” encounter stigma, and Black men carry the weight of other people’s fear. In “Bad Education,” we see how women learn to internalize rage and accept violence in order to survive. And in “To Wit and Also” we meet Filliss, Grace, and Peggy, the enslaved women owned by Trepczynski’s white ancestors, reckoning with the knowledge that America’s original sin lives intimately within our present stories. Over and over again, Trepczynski reminds us that our true identities are often most authentically lived not in the black and white, but in the grey of the in-between.

Perfect for fans of Heavy by Kiese Laymon and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Don’t Let It Get You Down delivers an essential perspective on race, class, bodies, and gender in America today.

Savala Nolan Trepczynski is a writer, speaker, and lawyer. She is Executive Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at University of California Berkeley School of Law, where she leads lectures and workshops for law students, scholars, and activists studying the intersections of race, gender, and law. She and her writing have been featured in VogueTime, NPR, Forbes, Huffington Post, Health, Shape, and more. She is a regular keynote speaker on social justice issues, including implicit bias, structural racism, understanding Whiteness, and the importance of social justice work for all lawyers. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Savala worked in the art world in New York City and Italy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.