If you were an active reader in your younger days, then you were probably obsessed with this next author’s series of books.
Lisa Williamson, better known as Sister Souljah, is an author, activist, recording artist, and film producer. She changed the game when she wrote her best-selling book, “The Coldest Winter Ever” back in 1999.
In this piece, Souljah introduces us to Winter Santiaga, the protagonist who tells the story in first person. Through her we learn of the realities of poverty in ghetto communities and the serious repercussions that come when choosing a life consisting of unethical things like drugs, unsafe sexual behavior, and material things.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of this kind of narrative before. We even have TV shows like, “Power” produced by Courtney A. Kemp and rapper 50 Cent, that show you the highs and deadly lows of the hustling-lifestyle.
In these kinds of stories, the drug game is often romanticized, with its fast-paced action, sex, and drama – not with Souljah. She breaks down the hard truths and realities that are really associated with the game. It’s the kind of brutal wake-up call that’s similar to Director Charles Stone III’s “Paid in Full”.
Souljah’s approach at telling this story is also pretty unique. Instead of having the story line in the usual perspective of a Kingpin, it’s told by his offspring – a female one at that.
She lets the youth, ignorant to the evils of it all before it’s too late, tell their side of story. As you read you dive further into the various psyches present and see how an addictive and tragic lifestyle roots itself in the most unassuming and innocent of minds.
We mourn the result of their actions as we feel like so many preventative measures could’ve taken place had they known better.
It hurts knowing that the victims in this case are the young. But Souljah’s main audience is in fact the younger generation, so what better way to appeal to a younger audience then to have the main character made in their image?
I recommend this book as a must-read to every single person not just living in an underserved community, but affluent ones as well. Souljah’s work helps break down the puzzling notions outsiders not from poverty-stricken communities hold when it comes to said areas.
Souljah helps those more better off understand the unfortunate position many victims of underserved communities are faced with when living with limited resources both an economic plane and with a lack of positive familial relations. Issues that went uncared for before are now made more apparent.
Thanks to Souljah, I clearly understand how lifestyles made up of living fast and dying young appeal to so many.
As an activist, Souljah decided to create this storyline as a way to wake people up. She wanted to warn struggling youths against the falsehoods of unconsciously adopting a seemingly attractive, yet dangerous, lifestyle.
Preaching the complete opposite of what many rappers promote nowadays, Souljah’s purpose for writing this story was straight to the point when she mentioned it in the reader’s guide at the end of “The Coldest Winter Ever”:
“I felt that in weaving this tale in an attractive and dynamic way, I was bringing forth a gift that would free thousands of youth and families who believed these horrible and crazy things were only happening to them. I believed I could place into the minds of the young certain universal truths about drugs, growing up, family, sex, and life. I was certain that it was needed.”
And in today’s climate, where drug usage and skewed morals and values are at an all-time high, she was definitely right.