Monday, March 29, 2010

No disrespect by Sister Souljah

I've never been really all that certain who Sistah Souljah really was or what she really did. I've never read any of her books, I've never listened to her music. I know she said something during the LA riots which instigated some sort of  racial debate from Bill Clinton, and that I didn't even remember the details of until I looked it up again. Basically she in inconsequential to my life, so for me to read her memoir and be SO touched and SO inspired seems like a rarity.

This Book is an autobiographical look at a few of the more influential relationships that she had in her formative years, starting with her mother. She uses each chapter to better exemplify the love lost in the African American community. While, some of her sociopolitical philosophies I really don't agree with, her ideas made me feel strongly and examine my own experiences. 

 Her views on homosexuality seem completely ignorant to me.

  "....and even though she had chosen lesbianism for herself, she was still not happy. Nor could I be shaken from my belief that homosexuality, while perhaps offering some individuals relief from their pain, was nevertheless a way of avoiding our people's need to build strong , life-giving and enduring family structures, rooted in our original African culture...."   
In my experience, it seems to me that prejudiced attitudes and limited ideas about love is  what's really ripping family structures apart. Her values and morals lie in the bible and the holy Qur'an, both of those texts have historically been used to impose the interpreted morals of a very select group of people on a very large group of people. It's hard for me to feel that someone would limit there morality to the expressed ideas of a book in this day and age.
She also talks about "mixing races" and how she feels it's an ABOMINATION for black to be with white and vice versa. She touched on this quite a few times in this book. For someone like me, who actually comes from "mixed parents" I'm usually appalled at this mode of thinking. I've heard it before, it sounds like "ku klux krap" to me. But to hear it from her point of view made me almost agree with her especially when she talks about the emotional scarring of a mixed child and the lack of having a strong sense of self because you represent two different places. This is something that really hits home for me,  I'm the only person of color in my immediate family. What that means is while I was a child growing and changing into my body I started to realize that my body is different then everyone else that I'm close to. I also was the punch line to peoples racist jokes, and sometimes the victim of more violently motivated racism. This is because I stick out and I grew up in an ignorant white place. AND NOW I spend so much of my time as an adult justifying my worth and actions because I continue to live in a white and ignorant place.  So many times I've heard comments from people I consider my intellectual peers like "well, you're not that brown" or " just because that guy called you a nigger at that show that doesn't mean you need to be upset about it" and various other things. These statements are usually coming from white men who can easily dismiss these things because they've never had to really defend themselves against racism. And thats what I'm CONSTANTLY surrounded by, white men. Why? because I have a "white" family I've been socialized in a "white" place I'm still at the mercy of this "white" mentality. It can be devaluing and confusing when people in your immediate sphere belittle you're experiences with racism because they "see you as a peer" and they don't have those sorts of problems. This is the first time I've acknowledged that I do, to some degree, feel my self esteem would have benefitted being raised in a place where people looked like me and thought like me. But does such a place exist? I don't know ... but how glorious... a land of Nadias! I call it the princess dome. 
I think that separating the book into chapters that represent the people that touched her is so alluring.  You literally get to watch her grow from a scared and confused child into a self- loving woman. Even after all of the damaging relationships with men that she has, she still remains hopeful and still has love inside of her.  She is obviously a strong woman who, despite personal tragedy has made it her goal to better the lives of the people in her community and speak her mind. This is a powerful female role model. This is a brown feminist fairy tale where, the heroine saves the day and she doesn't find prince charming in the end, she finds out that she is a whole person.

No comments: