I have had an admiration for Gabrielle Monique Union Wade for a while. At first, as with most relationships that deal with envy, I didn’t like her. I thought she was snobbish. Stuck up. I legit thought she was a bitch. I won’t lie. I thought he was pretty, but I thought she was a bitch. To me, Gabrielle presented an air of a girl that couldn’t be bothered unless you had a Nautica jacket or a Tommy Hilfiger in high school. Furthermore, she wasn’t the type that I would have associated with either.
But it’s funny how life does, and how it allows you to grow up. Gabrielle Union is now a woman that I would be proud to know. Like most Black women whom have the trifecta of ambition, drive and beauty you are immediately labeled a bitch.
With her book We Are Going To Need More Wine, I saw a side of her that I knew existed, but didn’t think that the public would ever get to see. Her essays are both penned and read by her for the Audible version. From the topic of sex, rape, dysfunctional families and confronting Blackness in White spaces, Gabrielle pulls no punches. She makes no excuses.
She owns all her shit. Which is marvelous to see!
Gabrielle talks about her efforts to appear, be, less Black while growing up in Pleasanton, California. She talks about being the only Black girl at a sleepover, only to wake up with her hair all over her head.
Gabrielle, referring to herself through the book of essays as Nikki, even speaks about a party at Prince’s (Yes, THAT PRINCE!) where she talks about how he was able to get people ‘in the room’. She speaks of how important it is to value the community that and whom you have most supported you! That struck me, reminded me that my Blackness can welcome as well as offend. Gabrielle speaks tenderly about Prince’s passing, as well as the hypocrisy that is and within Hollywood. I felt the simmering rage in these pieces. It was righteous, evident and needed.
She even talks about her trials as a step-mother, losing her virginity and even this crazy girl, Queshaun, that all but stalked her and threatened to beat her up for her dating Jason Kidd! Yes, THAT Jason Kidd!
I found myself at points wishing I had her in the room to ask her questions. I laughed out loud at some points, and when it got to her enunciation and pronunciation of certain words, I had to remember that she spent most of her time among non-melaninated people. Which let me throw my head back again, when she talks about her summers spent in North Omaha, where her family is originally from. Some of her best moments of Black girl magic were spent there! From her first kiss by a bus stop; sneaking boys and wine coolers in her grandmothers house; to her and her cousin keeping a young man that shot someone in her grandmother’s basement.
What makes this book so poignant is her honesty. It is brutal, soft and relevant. Through the stories she is willing to tell, you see her unfold in front of you. As the reader, even at the end of the book, reminds us to take care of ourselves. Gabrielle does what Black women before her have done, and that is to take care of everyone else—and remind those in our lives of our own stories, history and power!
From these 20 chapters, we get a glimpse into Gabrielle’s life, and the strength she has garnered to get to where she is, knowing there is so much further to go.
Gabrielle “Nikki” Union has lived!
It is so fortunate for us that she wrote some of her life down, while living the rest of her life before us.
Keep givin em, Hell, Nikki!
Get ’em, Gabrielle!