Activist-Writer Sister Souljah Pens New Book, Talks Love

by: Shantella Y. Sherman Special to the AFRO
/ Sista Souljah (Courtesy Photo) /
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SISTER SOULJAH
Sista Souljah talks about love at a D.C. book signing of her recently released memoir “No Disrespect”.

It’s been nearly 25 years since rapper Sister Souljah gained national attention by publicly challenging then-Presidential hopeful Bill Clinton’s racially marginalizing campaign rhetoric. The Rutgers-educated activist, recently released her memoir “No Disrespect” – a graphic autobiography that attempts to shift the discourse on Black feminism to acknowledge its existence in hostile, violent, and misogynistic spaces.

Souljah’s stardom though, came most abruptly with the release of her 1999 urban family novel, “The Coldest Winter Ever.”

“’The Coldest Winter Ever,’ and more specifically, the character Winter Santiaga resonated with women and young girls all around the country – not just because she was coming of age while living in an urban space and surrounded by staples of that environment, but also because Black and Latina women recognized Winter,” said B. Lovely Branch, a D.C. culture critic at a recent Souljah book signing, hosted by the National Press Club and Politics and Prose on Nov. 17.

It was at this book event, where she signed copies of the fifth installment in the Winter series – “A Moment of Silence (Midnight III),” that Sister Souljah’s true reach became evident.  In a line snaking from her table to the foyer and composed of as many older White men, as young Black girls, most asked about the possibility of her writing a new memoir to update “No Respect.”

“I’ve been married now for 23 years and that could probably make up at least one book – with several volumes,” Souljah told the {AFRO}.  “I think I have a lot more to say, especially about love and marriage – keeping a marriage together, not honey-coating it, but offering some things that I think would be helpful in looking at the whole concept of love, of marriage, of family.  I think of writing “No Disrespect II” a lot of times.”

Souljah’s insights on love, marriage, and men are often found in her work, whether fiction or non-fiction.  According to Souljah, it is that genuine respect that offers a counterweight to negative depictions of young Black men in her work. It is a template many urban girls wholeheartedly seek and embrace.

“I love and listen to the sound of a man’s voice, the intent of his words, the feelings from his heart. At the same time I love the stance of a man, the posture, the demeanor, the way he walks and definitely the way he thinks and works,” said Souljah.  “I love men who are capable of love, who help instead of hurt, who heal instead of destroying. I have known many great men in my lifetime. I tend to see the goodness more than the flaws, as long as the flaws are not toxic or abusive.”

As for her thoughts on the new presidential hopefuls, Souljah remains silent.  Her commitment, now, as in the 1990s, is set on a love for Black people and their ability to maneuver an often uneven playing field. Noting a return to some of the same conflicts between community and law enforcement, Souljah said a new digital society has made it impossible to choose the police over the citizen when the evidence is being recorded on cellphones.

“Our lives certainly matter. At the same time, in order for us to win in any real way, we will have to straighten ourselves.  I believe we are not receiving spiritual protection because we are not straight. We have not humbled ourselves before our maker,” Souljah said.  “Our people today want to win without God, without aim, precision, study, unity and Lord have mercy without love or truth. That’s not going to happen.”

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