Young, Gifted, and Black: A Journey of Lament and Celebration, By Sheila Wise Rowe
Young, Gifted, and Black
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: February 15, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0355
  • ISBN: 9781514003558

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"Young, gifted and black,
Open your heart to what I mean . . . "

Nina Simone's popular anthem from the civil rights movement speaks to both the celebrations and trials of the Black experience.

Young, Gifted, and Black gives voice to the real-life stories of Black millennials and younger adults. If life was a race, it's assumed that every runner has a fair shot at winning. However, it's not always the case for young, gifted, and Black folks. Sheila Wise Rowe goes beyond the common narrative that focuses solely on their success or struggle. Her stories of celebration and lament point toward hope, joy, and healing.

Drawing from her years of experience in counseling trauma and abuse survivors, she provides stories, reflections, and tools for Black readers of all ages and their allies. These stories offer an opportunity to explore, reflect, and journey toward healing from the barriers that affect their lives, the lives of their children, and their communities.

"In Young, Gifted, and Black, Sheila Wise Rowe paints a vivid picture of the multitudinous ways that Black excellence is made manifest despite the barriers of marginalization."

Ekemini Uwan, public theologian and cohost of Truth's Table podcast

"The stories Sheila shares are relatable, moving, and healing. I saw myself in the stories shared, and I am convinced young Black readers will see themselves too. Sheila considers the importance of uplifting and leading the next generation toward healing. Young, Gifted, and Black highlights the importance of young Black leaders and why older leaders should pass the baton. Through story, history, and trauma-informed research, Sheila makes a brilliant case for young Black leaders' unique gifts. This book is a must-read."

Faitth Brooks, antiracism educator and cohost of the Melanated Faith podcast

"Young, Gifted, and Black is one of the most important books in our present moment that speaks to readers about why it is vitally important to affirm, celebrate, and create safe spaces for gifted Black children. Wise Rowe compassionately takes the reader on a journey, weaving in the importance of racial healing and discipleship in how we parent, support, and raise Black children. I highly recommend this literary work to anyone who cares about Black children growing up with full confidence, knowing that their existence, stories, and contributions matter in this world."

Terence Lester, founder of Love Beyond Walls and author of When We Stand: The Power of Seeking Justice Together

"Young, gifted, and Black. This particular group isn't small. Sheila Wise Rowe allows you to see how young, gifted, and Black individuals are forged in the fire like gold. She allows the reader to journey into the flames to understand the various ways these individuals survive and thrive. Unfortunately, some do not believe they are gifted when they are young and Black. The book is an encouragement to the audience to be resilient and persevere against all external voices that have taken root inside the hearts and minds of young, gifted, and Black people."

James "Jimmy" McGee III, president and CEO of Impact Movement

"In this book, Sheila helps the young, gifted, and Black feel seen. It is filled with heartwarming stories, including that of the author, her son, Jonathan, and others, that show what it looks like to discover the fullness of who we are and walk in it unabashedly, despite systemic challenges. For those who resonate, this is an unearthing. For those looking to learn, this will be both eye opening and transformative."

Peace Amadi, professor and author of Why Do I Feel Like This?

"Through powerful storytelling and research, Sheila brilliantly unpacks the realities of growing up in a world that has not and still does not value Black humanity. Within each chapter, Young, Gifted, and Black boldly declares that we are seen, we are lovely, and our gifts matter. What a relevant message for my young, gifted, and Black son and daughters! It is like Holy Spirit wind beneath my wings, strengthening me to soar as God's precious creation."

Dorena Williamson, author of The Celebration Place

"Young, Gifted, and Black provides a beautiful entryway into the nuance and complexity of life that many young Black adults experience. Sheila does an incredible job of capturing stories and allows those stories to paint a picture of lament, grief, celebration, and hope. Not only are we invited into someone else's journey, we are also extended an invitation to reflect on our own stories through the reflection questions at the end of each chapter. Sheila doesn't let us off the hook there though. As we pay attention to what is surfaced within us as we reflect, she reminds us of the importance of being embodied through the embodied prayer practices. This book is yet another reminder that the Black experience is not a monolith, and it gives those of us who are Black some encouragement as we are reminded that Jesus will continue to meet us in all that we encounter in this life. When the world and others try to define us by either our success or our struggle, this book reminds us that all of our story matters and that God is working all things for our good and his glory."

Alethea Lamberson, cohost of the Roll Down podcast

"Imagine sitting in on countless therapy sessions, like a fly on the wall, nonintrusive, just present, and you will have a sense of the experience of reading Young, Gifted, and Black by therapist-author Sheila Wise Rowe. Ms. Rowe shares the highs and lows of life in America for young people seeking to create lives of meaning and difference. These are all our stories, our narratives of seeking to navigate a world that is often void of compass or map. The result is that we hope our way toward a life worth living. Between the pages of Young, Gifted, and Black you will find margin, places to pause between stories, a safe place to reflect and then engage with embodied practices that become like life preservers on uncharted waters."

Juanita Rasmus, author of Learning to Be and copastor of St. John's Downtown Church, Houston

"Thanks to Sheila Wise Rowe for Young, Gifted, and Black. In her previous book, Healing Racial Trauma, she exposed the realities of racism's internal impact and trauma. In Young, Gifted, and Black, Wise Rowe spotlights racism's impact on Black millennials. What I appreciate most are the thoughtful reflection questions in each chapter that help us to move toward places of discovery and transformation as individuals, families, and groups who might journey through these books together."

LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, global poet and founder of the Gathering Chicago Global Network

Read an Excerpt


1. The Starting Line: The Journey Begins
2. The Color Line: Healing Racial Trauma
3. The Family Line: Wounds and Wonder
4. Fall in Line: The Mask
5. Between the Lines: Things Lost and Found
6. Out of Line: A Moral Injury
7. A Fault Line: All In or Out
8. The Frontline: Activism and Discipleship
9. Hold the Line: The Long Wait
10. The Boundary Line: Where I End and You Begin
11. Walk the Line: What Matters Most
12. Finish Lines: Surrender and Acceptance

Appendix 1: The Genogram
Appendix 2: A Forgiveness Prayer


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Sheila Wise Rowe

Sheila Wise Rowe, the author of Healing Racial Trauma, holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She has ministered to abuse and trauma survivors in the United States for over twenty-five years and in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a decade. Sheila also taught counseling and trauma-related courses. She and her family live in the Boston area, where she is a writer, speaker, and spiritual director.