"It's like the new testament versus the old" journalist and author Yomi Adegoke tells me, speaking about the difference between Slay In Your Lane: The Journal and it's older sibling, Slay In Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, both of which she co-wrote with marketing manager, journalist, and author Elizabeth Uviebinené. "We came up with the sub title of The Black Girl Bible and it resonated with so many black women and they were like 'Yes, it is.' The black girl bible was our personal hope for it, but to see so many women saying the same thing, fam, I could cry."
For me, Slay In Your Lane was a bible and a best friend. It was a source of comfort and connection, helping to me to realise I wasn't alone and opening my eyes to a number of racial experiences I've had over the years and what they meant. Slay In Your Lane provided unity for black women all over the UK by sharing experiences of racism and misogynoir that people could instantly relate to.
Now Adegoke and Uviebinené have created a companion to their first work, which will come in the form of a journal. Harper Collins describes it as a "beautifully illustrated, empowering, and practical toolkit for a generation of black British women inspired to find success in every area of their lives." While the wellness trend may have been going on for some time now, this is, to my knowledge, the first wellness book on the market dedicated exclusively to helping black women. I chatted to the authors about why they think that's important, and what they hope readers will take from it.
Lollie King: What inspired you to write the journal?
Elizabeth Uviebinené: At the end of our book tour last year, we met so many thousands of women and one of our Q&As was almost becoming a workshop style with so many questions about working full time while creating Slay In Your Lane [SIYL], very practical-led questions. We were giving our advice and we realised people really wanted to know how we were able to get into our careers and establish a side hustle alongside. Then we were approached about the journal and said yes. While SIYL is full of amazing anecdotes, advice, and stories, the journal distils them into practical tips and is more interactive.
Yomi Adegoke: We were quite cautious not to use the term "self help" with the first book because you can't slay your way out of systemic racism. Because some of the issues we face as black women like racism, misogynoir, and sexism are so big and institutional and systemic but it can be hard to get advice. Its not the a self help bit it's that space. We wanted it to push the conversation further this time and we get even more into the nitty gritty. The first book was about outlining the experience and this was about at providing advice and solutions.
LK: I know first hand how important your book is to people. Do you each have a book that has changed your life?
EU: I know exactly what you're going to say.
YA: Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought. It's like the only book I've read, haha. It completely shaped my thinking around black womanhood. I wouldn't say I was apolitical before but I grew up in a predominately black area so I wasn't thinking about race. But it was at uni that I really started thinking about race. Without Hill Collins, I wouldn't have the language to articulate how I felt.
EU: My book is The Defining Decade by Dr Meg Jay. It's all about how you make the most of your twenties in three ways, health, relationships, and career. It really helped me be take charge and be in the driving seat of my life. Reading this book and understanding practical and theoretical ways about how to navigate your twenties was really important. It helped me to navigate myself into black not yet occupied.
LK: Were there any challenges you faced compiling the book and the new journal?
YA: With the book, we were both in full time work at the time. We lived in the same house, and before we used to go out, rave, and have really active social lives, and that was completely put on hold. And bare in mind we were 22 and 23 at the time.
Our weekends just became completely about the book. We wanted it to be research heavy because, as black women, we are always asked to prove our experiences so we needed statistical evidence to back it up. The research took months, and co-ordinating 39 women. The assumption was that we had connections with these women, especially because I worked in the media, but we didn't. Practical balancing of juggling your life, with the book that becomes your life, was one of the hardest parts.
It would be a lie to say working together constantly didn't have an impact, it can take its toll. Sometimes we wanna talk about guys and fun but we feel bad for taking time out from book.
LK: What are the challenges you've overcome as a black woman?
EU: Growing up as a young person coming from South London, you may not have a lot of expectations from your teachers that you'll succeed. I was always the middle of the road and, for so many of us, if you don't take charge, you can fall through the gaps. One of the challenges is being forgotten. It wasn't racism, it was poverty and a lack of resources. A lot of women in the book talk about the longer route to success.
YA: Generally just being misunderstood, because you're understood through the lens of race and gender first. In working environments, I've experienced being slightly more withdrawn at work, being an introvert, so won't want to go to the pub after work, and rather than that be taken as introverted or time for myself, it's read as being stand offish or cold. It's more difficult to have those boundaries as a black woman because they are misunderstood as being cold, but really I'm just tired. My social circle isn't as big as people think, so I prefer to spend time with our loved ones. If white women have to say "no worries" we have to say "no worries, kiss kiss kiss." Because there are so few black women, the expectations that we put on the few is so intense.
LK: What is one thing in the journal that you think everyone should know?
YA: Not many people get a chance to really sit and think about themselves and not think about the why. You think you want this job, this relationship etc. but not why. We spend hours on the phone talking about where we are, who we are, where we want to go and how. We're helping people in the journal to understand what they want and why they want what they want and how and when you're going to get there. It's about self discovery but not over thinking too much, because sh*t happens in life and, as a black woman, not everything goes to plan. It gets you to be as prepared to be the best version of you as possible.
EU: Its so important to get yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zones as often as possible. This book helps you do that, especially if you aren't used to journalling.
YA: For me theres a bit about what you want in a partner strategically, looking at what matters to you and why. We're always feeding into materialism but there isn't a space for it in relationships.
LK: What was the intention?
EU: It was that you've got a helping hand along the way from education to how did you come to be where you are now, and to make you look at your life in a more holistic way. The journal is about you and how you feel.
LK: Do you have any advice for your younger selves?
EU: I'd say keep being resilient, and not taking no for an answer.
YA: Probably to keep being myself, young me was unapologetic and confident. I'd tell her to keep going against the grain even when it's uncomfortable to do that.
The Slay In Your Lane Vision Board Workshop with Aziza Francis is happening at De Beauvoir Block on Sept. 10 at 6.15 p.m. Tickets are available here.
Gal-dem presents Slay In Your Lane: The Journal is happening at Canada Water Theatre on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets for this event here.