They came in anticipation to the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland Saturday evening, December 6. And they got everything they expected and more. Sister Souljah, activist, former rapper, and best-selling author of No Disrepect and The Coldest Winter Ever, was in town, and she did not disappoint. Sponsored by Marcus Book Store of Oakland, the event was well attended and despite the competition of the De La Hoya fight and several football game playoffs, the brothers were in the house representing. Sister Souljah was ready. She started off saying that she would answer all questions; she is a big girl and she can take it and hopes we can do the same. Brown-skin, face devoid of make-up, a pug nose, she had two pony tail puffs, very young looking, belying her claim of being the mother of a 15-year old son; black long sleeved tee and black slacks, very unpretentious
We sat mesmerized for almost two hours as this Sister preached, philosophized, and prophesied about life as she saw it and of course, talked about her new book, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story. Let me back up a little. The book, Midnight, is a bit of a controversy. You see, what happened was…. Sister Souljah wrote The Coldest Winter Ever almost ten years ago, which was one of the most phenomenal literary occurrences in history. It was particularly popular in the black communities across the U.S touted. as the new re-emergence of what is called street or urban literature. Literature that speaks to the hearts and minds of the hip hop youth, the disenfranchised, and those who are living on the edge of society. TCWE and the copy cats that followed has been touted as responsible for bringing a whole generation of formerly nonreading teens into the literary arena. While TCWE opened the doors for a lot of authors to write stories that “kept it real”, surprisingly or surprisingly not, Sister Souljah does not want to be labeled a street/urban writer. She wants to be a writer that appeals worldwide. But let me tell you about the book signing event; I will go into detail on some points SS made so this might take two or three blogs. There is a lot to talk about.
My online book group, APOOO (A Place of Our Own) www.apooobooks.com chose Midnight as our December book of the month. Now we are a group that gets down to the nitty gritty when discussing and dissecting a book. So, I will be referencing some comments as well as conversations with others about this new release.
Somewhere along the way, something got misconstrued. We had been hearing for almost a year that SS was writing a sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever. So, and because almost everything promoting Midnight, including the publisher of the book, Simon & Schuster sending out material indicating it so, that is what readers were expecting. It was not until Sister Souljah gave an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, when she adamantly emphasized that Midnight was a prequel, not a sequel Unhun, um. Well, the book was one of the all time best-selling of pre-ordered books on Amazon.com and a lot of those people did not get the memo, according to many of the reviews on that site. Not only is the book getting mixed reviews, Sister Souljah has been getting hot emails, folks complaining about many things among them, not having Winter (the main character in TCWE) in the book to what they perceive as blatant disrespect to Black Americans.
So let me school you on what Sister Souljah has to say about all that noise you all are out there making.
To the charges that she, as a proud black woman, is disrespecting black people, she finds ludicrous. The angry, passionate letters and emails she is getting has her scratching her head. She is writing from a point of view of a young boy from the Sudan in the character, Midnight. This is the way he sees things in his young mind, having grown up in Africa where men are taught to be men and take responsibility. Besides, Sister Souljah wants to know if these same people who are writing to her, would they write to the sister who sold millions of books by telling the world how she slept with some of hip hops most respected artists.
In speaking with one of my Marcus Book Club members Saturday, she said she read the book and was not the least bit offended by the things the character, Midnight, had to say about black people. She said something to the affect, “What is being said, is for the most part true and the truth hurts.” Ouch! So, I leave you with this, for those who have read Midnight: A Gangster Story, do you feel American born blacks are displayed in a negative light? For those who have not read the book, do you think Black Americans/African Americans are in competition with other blacks from the Diaspora (African natives, West Indians, South American blacks, black Brits and other black Europeans)? Are black Americans unfairly compared to these others?
More on this and much more about Sister Souljah and Midnight: A Gangster Love Story.