Cover image for My sisters' voices : teenage girls of color speak out
My sisters' voices : teenage girls of color speak out
Jacob, Iris.
Personal Author:
First Owl Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxi, 246 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"An Owl book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ798 .J32 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ798 .J32 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In the tradition of the bestselling Ophelia Speaks , a collection of provocative essays by teenage girls of color

My Sisters' Voices is a passionate and poignant collection of writings from teenage girls of African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, and biracial backgrounds. With candor and grace, they speak out on topics that are relevant not only to themselves and their peers but to anyone who is raising, teaching, or nurturing young women of color.

As adolescents, women, and minorities, these young authors represent a demographic that has had no voice of its own, a group often spoken for but rarely given the opportunity to be heard. Now these young women have a chance to stand up and be counted, to present their own unique perspectives in fresh and astonishing ways. Here you'll find a Native American girl writing about the bumps in her relationship with her best friend, who's white; a Korean American girl who wishes she could help her mother understand that it's okay to socialize with boys as well as girls; and a biracial girl who feels she must be the designated spokesperson for blacks when she's around whites, for whites when she's around blacks, and for biracial people around everyone. These personal and inspiring stories about family, friendship, sex, love, poverty, loss, and oppression make My Sisters' Voices essential reading for young women of all backgrounds.

Author Notes

Iris Jacob is an eighteen-year-old biracial female with a strong commitment to diversity issues. She has been a student facilitator at numerous diversity conferences, has started affinity groups for students of color and women at her high school, and codirected a youth leadership institute addressing topics of oppression, prejudice, and awareness

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

"Teen girls all over the country feel this way! We are angry at not belonging." Jacob, a biracial teen from South Dakota, wrote this book in response to other titles about teen girls' experiences, such as Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia (1994) and Sara Shandler's Ophelia Speaks (1999), that she felt didn't adequately represent girls of color. The result is a volume that intersperses short poems and prose selections written by teens of color from all over the country. The selections reflect the expected unevenness of quality, and Jacob's chatty prefaces to each piece frequently seem intrusive. But the writers speak about the issues that matter most to teens (self-image, family, sex, love, abuse, pride, education, courage, race, and beauty), and Jacob's voice in her general introduction is clear and completely her own--direct, insightful, angry, and alternately adolescent (awesome is a favorite word) and adult. Teens will be the largest audience for this, but adult browsers will find the range of voices and experiences enlightening. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

After reading Mary Pipher's Reviving Ophelia and Sara Shandler's Ophelia Speaks, 18-year-old biracial Jacob felt her "struggle had not been truly identified... in addition to bearing the weight of being teenagers and female, we also carry the enormous issues of race and ethnicity." While she admits that her literary answer to this struggle won't solve all of the world's problems, it might empower adolescent girls of color. Jacob solicited works from teens across the country, writing thousands of letters to friends, English teachers and social organizations. The result is a stirring collection of essays and poems detailing the coming-of-age experiences of a diverse group of young women identified by name, age and ethnicity. Jacob and company tackle such issues as interracial friendships, poverty, oppression and family. With her personal reflections inserted before each piece, Jacob exhibits empathy with the writers, revealing rage when presenting African-American Brooke Wilson's harangue against female objectification, and later joining Chinese/Italian Alicia Mazzara in displaying defiance when forced to choose one race over another in the biographical information section of standardized forms. Some of the writings are more race-oriented than others (e.g., Shivani Agarwal's heartbreaking story of first love does not mention ethnicity, and some contributors are listed as "African American," while others are simply "Black"), but all are important and will resonate with teens and their parents, teachers and mentors. Agent, Agnes Birnbaum. (Apr. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-For this book, Jacob, a biracial teen, wrote letters to English teachers, organizations, and others to solicit submissions from young women across the country about their experiences as teenagers of color. The result is a moving collection of essays and poems about family, friendships, sex, love, loss, identity, racism, and oppression. It is clear from the frank and deeply personal nature of the entries that the authors write from their hearts. The pieces are each prefaced by comments from Jacob in which she relates her own experience about the topic at hand or offers a reaction to it. Readers will see themselves reflected in some writings and will be enlightened by others.-Ajoke' T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xv
More Than Skin Deepp. 1
Simone Senior: The Smoking Sectionp. 2
Wendi Nevels: The Black Sheepp. 7
Brooke Wilson: My First Love: Skratchingp. 9
Vannah Shaw: A Culture of Our Ownp. 12
Nzinga Moore: Standards of Beautyp. 16
Nneka Nnaoke Ufere: Fearp. 18
Lynette Salik: The Twenty Words I Never Understoodp. 20
Jasmin Kolu Zazaboi: You Are You But I Am Blackp. 22
Lianne Labossiere: A Page from My Diary: Black and Beautifulp. 23
Lisbeth Pelayo: Racismp. 26
Kazia T. Steele: Complexionp. 28
Jasmin Kolu Zazaboi: The Color Linep. 30
Jade Pagkas-Bather: The Color Linep. 31
Faleesha Grady: It's Hardp. 34
Elsie M. Giron: Searching for a Little Respectp. 36
Cecilia Nguyen: All-American Girlp. 37
Anne Hoye: Chameleonp. 39
Tara Bynum: Untitledp. 42
Andrea Friaz-Gallardo: Sick and Tiredp. 46
Andrea Friaz-Gallardo: Assimilationp. 48
Alicia Mazzara: Known as "Other"p. 50
Akemie Cousin: I Wish ... I Wish ... I Wish!!!p. 54
Tara Bynum: Outbreakp. 55
Our Rootsp. 58
Andrea Friaz-Gallardo: The San Joaquin Valleyp. 59
Ashley Sng: Away from Homep. 64
Sia J. Yobah: Our Streetp. 67
Sneha Upadhyay: Indian Rootsp. 71
Brittney West: Is This Love?p. 74
Sokonie S. Freeman: Through Those Articulate Eyesp. 76
Amisha Padhair: Ugat: My Village in Indiap. 79
Taia Waltjen: Daddy's Girl and Life's Lessonsp. 82
Anonymous: My Familyp. 86
Tara Ashley Chaney: Justice (for My Momma)p. 87
Shivani Agarwal: Silent Soldierp. 94
Monique Beacham: Millennium Womanp. 97
Cierra Goodloe: Abandonedp. 98
Tiana Phenix: My Heartbeatp. 100
Hilary Evans: Spadesp. 102
Person To Personp. 105
Shivani Agarwal: Chanson d'amourp. 106
Blair Revay Bonds: Lately Thingsp. 108
Uduak Onda: Untitledp. 110
Hyacinth Wallace-Blake: Vain Imaginings and Other Artifactsp. 112
Sarah Richardson: Friendsp. 114
Alicia Carrington: Questions and Answersp. 116
Jennifer Oda: Her Dancep. 118
Jessica L. Farley: I Put on a Maskp. 120
Tayo Darrell: The Routinep. 121
Alicia Lea Haley: Untitledp. 123
Kristla Wingo: Battered Butterfly: A Story of an Abusive Relationshipp. 126
Itoro Akpan: A Welcomed Identityp. 130
Tiana Phenix: Untitledp. 132
Maribel Lopez Guzman: Una Rosa en Mi Jardin (A Rose in My Garden)p. 134
Ourselves Inside and Outp. 138
Shimere Etheridge: I Am a Female Skaterp. 139
Shawntai Genell Brown: Horizontal Ups and Downsp. 140
Neftara O. Clark: The Child of Our Younger Yearsp. 142
Meredith King: Do the Feminist Thingp. 144
Rebecca Guest: Maui Year 2001p. 148
Cara H. Sandberg: I am carap. 151
Monica Sanchez: Untitledp. 153
Samantha McKinney: Sexp. 155
Ka'imi Crowell: Mortalityp. 157
Jacqueling Nwaiwu: I Chose Schoolingp. 159
Leah Skjefte: God vs. Creatorp. 163
Jolynne Gonzalez: Entry to Churchp. 165
Cecilia Nguyen: Behind the Wheelp. 168
Camille Hoosman: Plan Cp. 171
Anonymous: Untitledp. 174
RubiVaughn: Spirit Keeps Herp. 176
Sharing Our Sorrowsp. 179
Shatara Miller: Death of a Grandmother, Loss of a Friendp. 180
Christina Carrillo: The Death of a Loved Onep. 182
Michelle Stevenson: Untitledp. 184
Ada Samuel: The Other Dayp. 186
Naeesa Aziz: Steve Said ...p. 187
Christina Chon: Untitledp. 190
Lisa Carter: Spring Breezep. 192
Carlotta Smith: Love Tapsp. 193
Tallish Bell: Being Deafp. 194
Camiele D. Land: Latelyp. 195
Yanica Ricketts: Depressionp. 197
Shimere Etheridge: These Scarsp. 199
Precious Angel: Unwantedp. 201
Anonymous: Untitledp. 204
Nicole Pickering: Reflectionp. 205
Mary Standing Soldier: Nonsensep. 206
Sarah Cook: That Childp. 206
V.M.: Violence and Abusep. 208
Mary Standing Soldier: And We Were Gonep. 209
Clarice Lewis: Pain Streetp. 212
Reclaiming Our Voicesp. 213
Jasmin Kolu Zazaboi: Don't Forget the Starsp. 214
Shimere Etheridge: My Hairp. 215
Sandra Manzanares: Mep. 217
Alicia Rodrigo: Rhythmic Vibrationsp. 219
Joycelyn Hubbard: Brown Skinp. 220
Melanie Medina: Girl Whop. 222
Leslie Neyland: The Girl I Knewp. 222
Neftara O. Clark: Essence of Lifep. 224
Ebony L. Herron: Chasing Ebonyp. 226
Diomara Chaparro: Untitledp. 229
Deymis Baquero: What Made Me Strongerp. 231
Candice J. Bingham: Untitledp. 233
Jeanette Asabere: Daughter of Africap. 235
Sunny Rasmussen: Untitledp. 236
Candice Fleming: The Struggle: Black, Light-skinned, and Smartp. 237
Janelle Camille Cates: For So Longp. 240
Kristin Soong: Untitledp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 243