Sistah Souljah Speaks Out

Jessie Markovetz

Lyrical, inspirational and heartfelt, the renowned author, activist, recording artist and film producer Sister Souljah spoke to a crowd of approximately 100 people on Tuesday evening in Love Auditorium, sharing wisdom on what it means to be an Africana woman.

The lecture, organized by Sisters of the Round Table (SORT), was the keynote address for Africana Woman’s Week.

“SORT decided to bring Sister Souljah for Africana Women’s Week because she is bold and daring,” SORT chairwoman senior Courtney Richardson said. “She has a mind that flows with an abundance of provocative yet real issues affecting women particularly Black women. Too often people and the media only scratch the surface of issues but rarely do they dig deep to reveal the depth and rawness of issues facing a people and society.”

Souljah began her lecture by letting the audience know how important it was to her to start a dialogue on campus about the issues facing women of color.

“The most important part of tonight will be when the floor is open,” Souljah said.

Souljah went on to tell of her upbringing in the projects of the South Bronx. She was an inquisitive child, and at the age of five was able to read and make her first trip to the New York Public Library. The first book she checked out was a Scholastic reader on Harriet Tubman. Souljah cites Tubman’s strength, courage and compassion as an impetus for her own self-confidence.

“This was my initial image of African womanhood,” Souljah said.

According to Souljah, this image has been tainted by the media’s portrayal of black women. Instead of celebrating intelligence and character, women are praised for their beauty and sex appeal.

“We don’t think we have to be excellent at anything except the visuals,” Souljah said.

Souljah then discussed the importance of taking every opportunity one can while in college, but not letting go of one’s roots. She cites the Euro-centric education system in the United States as a source of the belief that in order to be successful, one must be or act white. She urged the audience to seek a cultural identity outside of the one taught in most schools.

Speaking of opportunities available to college students, Souljah talked about her time studying in Europe and Africa. She expressed how her time in these countries made her realize the importance of collective identity.

“In America, I is I,” Souljah said. “We, in an African sense, is power. I is not.”

Stressing the importance of personal pride, Souljah told her audience to value their history and cultural identity, stating these points as the reasons she decided to write in the first place.

“The standards of African womanhood have to increase, and African women are the ones who have to increase it,” Souljah said.

Richardson thought the event was a great way to expand the ideologies on campus.

“Collectively as a group we had to understand that without a doubt, Sister Souljah is going to get others talking, thinking, and engaging in many issues of today and their lives,” Richardson said. “We understand that a liberal arts university is a platform for such behavior to occur and is encouraged, which is why bringing up Sister Souljah and having Souljah 101 [a supplementary discussion that took place on Wednesday evening] is essential.”