I walked into the Covet lounge on Thursday, May 20th for the Souls of My Sisters Press Reception expecting to see women lined up at a table waiting to answer questions about their stories. I envisioned that the room would be somber from all the stories of depression, rape, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and family tragedy. Even though all of the story’s end on a high note, I expected resistance from the contributors. Why, you ask? Because who wants to tell the story again, its in the book for all to see.
Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by women standing tall, heads held high,welcoming smiles, ready to speak to me. It was like walking into a sorority house full of newly pledged sisters…. only these women were connected by their separate journeys leading to a path of sisterhood. It was Amazing!
I was able to speak with many of the contributors, and when asked what they wanted young women to gain from their experiences, the answer was overwhelmingly the same: No matter what obstacles you face in life, when you stop blaming and start living, you will get through, as long as you have faith. Seems easy enough,but as I read the stories it didn’t seem easy to me.
Jennifer Lewis “I am Blessed” (page 183):
Jennifer’s story is one we never fully hear. Too often we hear abut the teen mom, her struggles but never her triumphs. Ms. Lewis’ story finally allows us to find the much-needed encouragement for teen women raising their children, in a society set up for them to fail. When asked what she wanted young women to get from reading her story she responded “That even as a single mom, she maintained goals and they can as well” In short your child does not stop you from being the best you possible, they are the motivation for doing your best.
Milani Rose “Weathering the Storm” (page 41):
A mere 4′ 10” Milani Rose’s story might have crushed a woman of greater heights. From foster homes, becoming a mom at 13, to stardom as a well-known model Milani embodies the taking negatives and turning them into positives. She decided to share her story in hopes that no other child would experience what she had, and if they were to let them know this too shall pass. She wanted to let girls know that “even in your darkest moment, you have to think big and plan for the next day FOR YOUR OWN SAKE”
Sybil Clark Amuti “I am Free” (page 35)
When I spoke to Sybil I was at a lost for words. The first thing she said to me was “My story was about living a double life, Great student by day and dealing with hardcore partying, drinking and depression by night”. This story is very familiar to me having had many friends deal with this. But so many times people have lost to the battle, Not Ms. Amuti, she is a survivor. She wants young women to realize that thing will happen in your life, some devastating but when you make them minute in the grand scheme you set yourself free.
Star Toille Murrell “80s Baby”(page 173)
Pretty, Smart and successful at an early age, Star longed for the kind of love she witnessed in her parents relationship. In this quest for love she lost herself only to be betrayed by the man she loved. Her message to young women (ALL WOMEN) is to Never let anyone determine your self-worth. Too often our young women envy women like Star and think because she’s pretty, lives a glamorous life she has it all, her story drives home that this is not true and that “Pretty is never enough”
Shalena Broaster “Your Mom’s in My Business” (page 154)
Fun-loving, mother of one, Shalena made me laugh from the moment she sat down. Her story on maintaining successful relationships was one I was drawn to immediately. Relationships are hard work, they become twice as hard when you allow “Others” to take a seat at the table. Ms. Broaster wants young women to know that if you want to have a successful relationship, keep other people out and invite God to lead you.
Nicole Paultre Bell “Thanksgiving Day” (page 232)
Lastly I had the pleasure of sitting with Nicole Bell.We’ve heard her story, been outraged that yet another Black man was murdered at the hands of NYPD. We know all of what the media chose to share with us, but that’s only part of the story. When I asked her why did she chose to share her story again she said She wrote the story because though it’s her tragedy, she knew she wasn’t the only one and though she didn’t know every women’s pain but sharing was therapeutic and it might help someone else. I find that honorable. To rehash such a traumatizing event in hopes that someone will read it and find the urge to go on is a wonderful.
This compilation of life stories is as honest and heartfelt as the women that wrote them. It stands to be the starting point of making women, young and old stand up and try to make things better. This is the kind of book that should be handed out to teenagers as soon as they hit poverty, read again at 20 and then passed on to your children. I’ve already passed my copy to my niece. In a post I wrote recently I made the declaration that the matriarchs of my family made me who I am and that it’s time for me to give back, This book confirmed that.