Sisterhood Project shares the power & wealth of words
Sisterhood Project shares the power & wealth of words
BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Cynthia P. White and associates hosted the Sisterhood Project book signing for their recent publication “Lessons In Living: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary God” at the James Weldon Johnson Library last Sat., Sept. 5.
The yearlong project involved the collaboration of nine extraordinary women from around the United States. The five women writers who live here in St. Petersburg include Magenta Black (chapter four), Amelia Neal (chapter nine), Valerie Dorn-Roberts (chapter 12), Sharion Thurman Reeves (chapter three) and White (chapters 1, 7 & 10).
Dr. Cynthia P. White
The chapters of the book highlight challenging situations each woman faced and eventually overcame through strengthening their connection with God. White said that her chapter “What I Learned From My Toro” is parallel to what people do in life when they take matters into their own hands.
“It was supposed to be a self-propelled lawnmower, but I was having the toughest time with it from the very beginning trying to get it started, putting in the gas and cutting the grass,” said White.
She also stated that she could have saved herself a lot of frustration by reading the Toro manual first instead of trying to operate the equipment without informed instructions. She “zigzagged” around what she needed to know until she had no other choice but to pick up the manual and follow its directions. White said many worshippers do this in life. They “zigzag” through the challenges of life because “we do not follow the will and intent of God.”
For Dorn-Roberts, writing chapter 12 was a spiritual catharsis.
“I feel I didn’t fit in… wasn’t played with and picked on by kids because of my left eye,” she said. She also shared that she experienced the divorce of her parents as well as her own with her husband as an adult.
The childhood bullying made Dorn-Roberts very unsure of herself as an adult. “I had a complex about my left eye. There were times I didn’t want to face the world. Having that complex didn’t give me the right way to deal with who I am and who I have become now.”
Dorn-Roberts feels that the book is extraordinary and is to be “read and enjoyed by all.”
Black said that writing her chapter renewed and strengthened her faith in God.
This Boynton Beach native was the youngest of 11 children, and the name of her chapter “I Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me” speaks volumes.
“I was abused by my father and I took all that bitterness into my marriage,” said Black.
Black’s anger issues that grew out of being sexually molested by her father made her feel like God had abandoned her.
“Why did he allow my father to abuse me? Why was my life the way it was?”
The hideous attacks that she and her sisters faced were like living with a monster, the monster that was supposed to be the protector, provider and spiritual anchor.
“I used to have to hide in a well to keep my daddy from bothering me!”
Black was at such a dark point in her life that she admitted she wanted to kill her father and she even tried to commit suicide.
“Why are you keeping me here,” said Black who questioned God’s intentions.
During a particularly hard time in her marriage when she was pregnant, jobless, living in a home with no electricity and at times no running water and her husband working sporadically, she used this time to come to terms with her past.
“We’re still dysfunctional—my brothers and sisters-because of our past. Nobody wants to talk about what happened. They feel that what happened in the past should stay in the past.”
When Black was writing her first book entitled “What Makes You Fat,” one of her sister’s stopped speaking to her because a lot of the author’s past was in the book.
“It was therapeutic for me and now I can heal and I hoped she could too because she’s in denial about it.”
Today, Black is the proud mom of four adult children, and has 16 grandchildren.
Neal faces a unique challenge in her life. The title of her chapter “White Woman’s Disease: An African-American Woman and Her Anti-Depressants” reveals her dependence on anti-depressant medication to help keep her functioning normally in the never-ending cycle of stress in the new millennium.
“The calling for me writing the story was for my healing,” said Neal.
Neal pointed out that taking anti-depressants to help her get through the pressures of being a working mom with three beautiful daughters might be seen as taboo among black people since her solution is what many white women do.
“Where normally our culture would call on the strength of the Lord in order to make it through, just being able to accept that this may be God’s answer for you also was okay.”
To find out more about Amelia’s psychological and spiritual coming to terms with managing stress and depression, you would have to read her chapter.
Sharion Thurman Reeves
Reeves’ chapter, “A Time to Rend and A Time to Mend,” dealt with the grief she experienced after losing her parents.
“I lost my parents, both my parents within seven weeks of each other,” said Reeves. She added that the experience was a devastated time for her.
“In going through it, the Lord gave me a way to deal with it, a healing process. Quite simply it was in the making of a quilt.”
Reeves emphasized her lack of knowledge of the process and her process of learning in order to create her family quilt of memories.
“I am no friend of a needle,” said Reeves. “Sewing, picking out the fabric, everything got me through the different phrases and phases of grief. And it taught me something about my heritage, both as an African-American woman and as a Thurman. It taught me something about my parents, about my mom and my dad and the heritage that comes from them.”
As a result of Reeves experience with the quilt, she grew so much as a cultural being and had the opportunity, with her chapter in the book, to write it down. Reeves used African fabric to make her family quilt.
“It has pictures of my family—my parents, my brothers and sister. It’s patches that I put together all by hand.”
The four other women writer who contributed chapters to the book from other states are Janice Parker Watson (chapter eight), Mona Stallworth (chapter six), Cheryl Williams (chapters 2 & 5) and Kathleen Williams (chapter 11).
For more information about purchasing the book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.