In the following video, Sista Souljah speaks truth to young girls and women of African descent, seeking to awaken them to the wealth of their African

Sista Souljah aka Lisa Williamson

ancestry. It is still commonplace in many African societies to teach their girls how to embrace and value womanhood through rituals and ceremonies.

In America, Sista Souljah decries, womanhood is not so beautifully defined. Instead, girls are taught through the media that womanhood means they have to be dumb and sexy. Worse yet, the image of the Black female is thrust across television and movie screens, fashion magazines and music videos as either ignorant or decadent or both. As a result of those portrayals and their pervasive acceptance, it is common for Americans to speak ill of her, says Souljah.

Winter Santiaga, the main character in Souljah’s book, “The Coldest Winter Ever” freely exhibits the denigrating behavior without apology. She also clearly equated manhood with sex, money and material wealth. She equated womanhood with the same. However, to her, women were to achieve those things through the use their bodies.

Though Souljah wrote “The Coldest Winter Ever” in the late 1990’s, Winter’s character remains contemporary to present day teens and young women.

After you watch the video, please feel free to share your views. Consider the following questions. Answer those in group 1 or 2. Please write your answer in the comments below. I’ll review and post.

1) Describe which image or images shown in the video reminded you of Winter and share why. As you listened to Sista Souljah’s descriptions of womanhood while a wide variety of pictures flashed by, were there some you found offensive, even embarrassing in the way these women displayed themselves? Which one(s) and why?

2) Briefly discuss your feelings about Sista Souljah’s assessment of American society’s responsibility through its negative portrayal of Black women on television, in movies, and in music videos for creating a negative self-image of Black girls’ as well as corrupting their sexuality. How important is it for Black girls to want to become wholesome, self-respecting women by building their self-esteem,  self-worth and self-image? Are those qualities a Black girl should value or did Winter’s values make more sense? Explain.

* Words that may need defining are italicized. Go to http://www.dictionary.com for easy reference.

**Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 23th, after school! See you there! ;-D


photo by Dafina Kuficha

In the first four chapters of “Coldest Winter Ever”, we see the emerging character of Winter Santiaga, a twelve year old who is growing up fast,  too fast, it seems.  Untied to moral standards or values, Winter is about fashion, sex and power. By age 12, she and her crew have developed some very promiscuous habits. Leader of her posse, Winter was revered for her choice of fashion, her toughness and for who her daddy is – Ricky Santiaga, drug czar of their Brooklyn hood.  The name and presence of Santiaga or his goons invokes a trail of fear. Young boys or older men dare not speak ill of either Winter or her family! Dressed to the nines, shopping and sex are her main focus. Life is about to drastically change for Winter….

There are six discussion questions. Please take time before you answer and remember, this is a discussion. Answer all six questions or choose two. Use examples from the story to emboss your viewpoint.  Please use complete sentences and use spell check for certainty.

1)  Discuss your first impression when you read about Sister Souljah’s main character, Winter Santiaga? Do you find her lifestyle enviable? If so, why?

2)  What do you find disturbing about Winter’s relationship with her parents? What type of woman were they molding her to become? Use examples from the first three or four chapters to support your answer.

3)  The character, Midnight, seems to be much different from the other young men that are around Winter’s crew. What sets him apart from the others? Does the fact that he may have some character give you a different view of drug dealers? If so, how?

4)  What do you think about the gifts Rickie Santiaga gives his daughter? How do the types of gifts she receives contribute to her behavior in her world?

5)  Not only are the younger  characters in the story stuck on the value of possessions, but the parents and adults are as well. What is the message the youth are receiving about the importance of education? If you have or had a friend like Winter, how would you talk with her about her choices to abandon her education?

6)  Winter Santiaga and her crew engage in sex freely and pregnancies run rampant in her community. Discuss your feelings about their sexuality and how self-respect and feelings of worth tie into their behavior. In other words, how do you feel their behavior speaks to their feelings of self-respect and self-worth?

* Words that may need defining are italicized. Go to http://www.dictionary.com for easy reference.

**Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 9th, after school! See you there! ;-D

Good books enrich our world! photo by Ms. Dafina