The Librarian Is In


By KATRINA SPENCER, Senior Columnist

Literatures and cultures librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic department, the French department, the Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS Program), the Language Schools, Linguistics and the Spanish & Portuguese departments. These affiliations are reflected in her reading choices. 

“While I am a very slow reader, I’m a very critical reader,” she says.


If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” Run!: Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  

By Whoopi Goldberg, 2015


Pages: 244

Happy Black History Month!

The What

Actress, comedian, talk show hostess and film producer Whoopi Goldberg takes some time to reflect on what she has learned after navigating the institution of marriage thrice and a variety of romantic and sexual relationships over the years. In this memoir/self-help hybrid, Goldberg recommends we all apply a heavy dose of common sense and honesty in pursuing unions with others and that we make the pursuit of romantic love less central to our lives and their meaning. In approximately 15 chapters, Goldberg addresses romantic love with a lack of sentimentality and with a good deal of logic. She has embraced her singlehood without denying her sexual appetites.


The Why

As I was collecting works for the Black History Month display, I made sure to include both Sister Acts, movies that were central to many black people’s youth in the 1990s and developed massive cult followings.

It was by accident that I found out that Whoopi Goldberg was an author and filmmaker, too. I started to dig deeper and explore facets of the artist’s and writer’s life. I knew, for example, that she was a comic before she was an actress, but I was unfamiliar with her work. So I took the time to appreciate her stand-up in Whoopi, Back to Broadway, her documentary, Moms Mabley and her words on relationships in this highlighted tome, …Run!, all of which are available in the Davis Family Library.

In this work, Goldberg asks her readers to critically examine where we get our societal cues on what makes, builds and sustains functional relationships, naming songs as one of the culprits that brainwashed the masses. When I critically examine my past, I realize that Ginuwine’s “Pony,” the Temptations’ “My Girl” and Salt N Pepa’s “Shoop” may not have led me down the path towards a bona fide, edifying, reciprocal love. Not one of these incredibly popular songs references household maintenance, chores, or who takes out the garbage and washes the dishes, payments of a shared mortgage, the revolutionary concept of a pair maintaining separate households, polyamory, love languages, STDs, vasectomies, tubal ligations, IUDs, spermicide, diaphragms, prenuptial agreements or any of the other conversations, products and situations couples encounter when they attempt to cohabitate, reproduce, parent and/or love one another.

Sexually-motivated and cloyingly amorous lyrics are what we are inundated and indoctrinated with. And while they’ve got irresistible beats and conjure historical memory, they hardly, poorly and ill prepare us for relationships that actually work, relationships that survive conflict, demand negotiation and carry us through turmoil. Goldberg challenges readers to be more methodical, balanced and level-headed in approaching unions.

I generally liked the work as it seems to suggest that every relationship is a world of its own that can be shaped by its participants. While Disney has generally suggested that wedding bells are the ultimate manifestation of love, few narratives offered by this cartoon warehouse engages what happens after the nuptials. Goldberg’s …Run! asks readers to anticipate just that.

…Run! is rarely laugh-out-loud funny; more often it’s gently snaky. But it meaningfully problematizes an institution that we have culturally come to accept as a default. The work leans rather heteronormative yet contains critical thinking prompts that apply to a variety of relationships. I’d recommend it to feminists and/or anyone planning a wedding that will exceed $10,000 in costs.

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