Sista! An Anthology of writing by and about Same Gender Loving Women of African/Caribbean descent with a UK connection

Edited by Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Rikki Beadle-Blair and John R Gordon.

Published with Team Angelica, London 2018. ISBN 978-0-9955162-4-3

Pages: 241

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Sista!, is a collection of poems, stories, biographical fragments, and essays by 31 same gender loving Black women living in the UK.

Sista!, is a must read not only for women and girls from the black community, but definitely also for the white community. At one hand it gives encouragement and brings strength to those women and girls who are struggling to be who they really are. For the white community it is to learn and get an awareness and acknowledge that there is a difference in culture, to acknowledge that white supremacists made it even harder for people from Africa and the Caribbean to come out, and be who they really are. Also to get an understanding how it is when your own family, community, country doesn’t accept you, neither does the country you live in because you have to deal with racism, sexism and other abuse. Yes, we are from different backgrounds, but we have commonalities: we are same gender loving women, and most of all we are human. We have to learn to acknowledge the difference, and embrace it, give space and foremost accept it.

Reading Sista!, gave me the wide gamut of emotions that run through the book. How it is to be of mixed race, lesbian and feel that lack of understanding, that lack of acknowledgement that you are also black?

For as long as there are racial divides in this world that centre around Black dehumanisation, then there will be space for a white woman to hurt me and my small brown child, even if that child is also part of her.

How does it feel, to be a lesbian and not be able to be, act, and show who you really are because your own family, who worships the ground that’s ‘paved’ with white narrow minded laws, installed by Christianity and colonialism. What was it like to come out and visit a gay bar where hardly any gay black women were? The existence of UK Black Pride, why it so desperately needed to be there, and still after its founding in 2005 needs to be here?

But over the last 10/11 years, the pain I have felt at being rejected by the wider, mainly white gay LGBT+ community, who didn’t and don’t see their privilege whilst blocking Black Pride for wanting to be visible, is not something I can bear to explain.

How do you deal with your hair that’s part of your identity, and what implication does that have?

Why am I bringing up hair? In order to discuss lifting the curtain of intersection of blackness and queerness, we need to discuss them as separate entities, to avoid whitewashing of either issue. Queerness is wholly seen as ‘a white thing’. Blackness is seen as tough, hard and unyielding.

All these questions are answered, but there is also intense love, sex, breakups, deep grieve, betrayal, African theatre….it is all in Sista!. Lessons need to be learned, differences accepted, to maybe finally be able to honestly stand together. In the end, we are all connected. Exceptional book, highly recommended!

Review by Karin Merx, white lesbian, artist/academic