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You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay For

Morgan Parker
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The award-winning author of Magical Negro traces the trauma and beauty of existing as a Black woman back through American history, from the foundational trauma of the slave trade all the way up to Serena Williams and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Dubbed a voice of her generation, poet and writer Morgan Parker has spent much of her adulthood in therapy, trying to square the resonance of her writing with the alienation she feels in nearly every aspect of life, from her lifelong singleness to her battle with depression. She traces this loneliness to an inability to feel truly safe with others and a historic hyper-awareness stemming from the effects of slavery.

In this collection of essays as intimate as being in the room with Morgan and her therapist, Morgan examines America's cultural history and relationship to Black Americans through the ages, through such topics as the ubiquity of a beauty culture that excludes Black women, the implications of Bill Cosby's fall from grace in a culture predicated on acceptance through respectability, and the pitfalls of visibility as seen through the mischaracterizations of Serena Williams as alternately iconic and too ambitious.

With piercing wit and incisive observations, You Get What You Pay For is ultimately a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness and its effects on mental well-being in America today. Weaving unflinching criticism with intimate anecdotes, this devastating memoir-in-essays paints a portrait of one Black woman's psyche--and of the writer's search to both tell the truth and deconstruct it.


Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the young adult novel Who Put This Song On? and the poetry collections Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at NightThere Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and Magical Negro, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and winner of a Pushcart Prize, Parker has been hailed by The New York Times as "a dynamic craftsperson" of "considerable consequence to American poetry." She received her bachelor's in anthropology and creative writing from Columbia University and her MFA in poetry from NYU. Parker is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and creator and co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico. With Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Shirley.


  • Publisher: One World (March 12, 2024)
  • Language: English
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • ISBN-10: 052551144X
  • ISBN-13: 9780525511441
  • Item Weight: 1.25 pounds
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