A Really Good Brown Girl

Monday 8 January 2024

Dumont, Marilyn. Canada: Brick Books, 1996.

Marilyn Dumont’s poetry collection, A Really Good Brown Girl, reads as a journey from internalised shame to pride in Métis identity. The coming-of-age text, a combination of both prose and poetry, follows the narrator, a young Métis girl, who is navigating her place in the world while white society teaches her to be ashamed of her identity. As she matures, the narrative voice and content of the poetry changes: the narrator becomes empowered and confident against all odds and is critical of the colonial conditions which censor and oppress Métis women. This transformation is best exemplified in the juxtaposition between the poems, “The White Judges” or “Memoirs of a Really Good Brown Girl”, and “White Noise.”

Pride in Métis identity is inherently peacebuilding as it stands in direct opposition to the violent colonial eradication of Métis and Indigenous culture across Canada. This text is testimony to the fact that peacebuilding does not mean conforming to, or agreement with, the status quo and systems of power. A Really Good Brown Girl highlights the intersectional barriers to inner peace which exist for Indigenous women in Canada. The way in which psychological trauma of colonial conditions affect the narrator’s identity, confidence, and inner peace are explicitly explored in this collection: the development of inner peace is not the same for everyone. Additionally, by illustrating these psychological impacts, the anthology masterfully develops empathy in the reader, and this collection is thus a tool to encourage and motivate truth and reconciliation.

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