Sisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly Love by Julia ChanceSisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly Love by Julia Chance

Sisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly Love

byJulia Chance, Michelle V. Agins

Hardcover | November 1, 2001

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A "sister"is so many things -- someone who was born to your parents, your best friend, the woman you shared love, hope, or heartbreak with...and the women in Sisterfriends are all those, and more. A collage of impressions of African-American women both well-known and unknown, the essays in Sisterfriends tell beautiful stories of sisters, whether related by blood or bonded by fate. Crossing economic, social, and geographic boundaries, these sisters support each other emotionally, financially, and physically.
The stories they tell are uplifting, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking. From singer Mary J. Blige and her sister LaTonya, who moved her entire family into Mary's mansion to manage her career, to Andrea and Lorelei Williams, who grew up in a one-room studio in Harlem and often didn't have food or electricity, to Bethann Hardison and her friend Marta Vargas, who share the bond of sisterhood as friends, Sisterfriends mines the whole experience in the words of its women. Iyanla Vanzant, Gayle King, and bell hooks contribute their own sister stories that compel, provoke, and ultimately illuminatthe fascinating relationship of women who call themselves "sister."
Native Chicagoan and Pulitzer Prize winner Michelle V. Agins is a staff photojournalist for The New York Times. Her photographs have appeared in Essence, Sports Illustrated, Ebony, and Jet. She is featured in Songs of My People and Photographs of Hope. The coauthor of Rookie, a children's book on the WNBA player Tamika Whitmore, Michel...
Title:Sisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly LoveFormat:HardcoverPublished:November 1, 2001Publisher:Atria BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0671037137

ISBN - 13:9780671037130

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Read from the Book

Foreword My sister once gave me a birthday plaque inscribed, "God made us sisters, hearts made us friends," and that inscription characterizes sisterhood as I have experienced it. And I have experienced sisterhood because my mother had six daughters. I know about those ties that bond -- they can feel like velvet strips one day, braided rope the next. But most days our relationships with one another are characterized by impenetrable bonds of charity and fidelity and honesty. And when we're less than that, when we're emotionally stingy or argumentative or gossipy, and even when we're sniping at each other, we're careful to avoid the tender spots, and to not draw blood. In short, we're close. It's a closeness that, as much as I value it, I also take for granted. We're sisters after all, we share parents and history and genetic composition, so shouldn't we be close? Except that the sets of sisters so stunningly presented by Julia Chance in the following forty-eight essays have come to know that their ties that bond didn't just happen simply because they are related. Each essay reverberates with the implicitly stated notion that these sisters are close not merely because they have the same parents. Some sisters portrayed here do not have a common blood line, nor are they bound just because they grew up sharing hair rollers, or bedrooms, or the backseat of the family car -- at least one sister pair was raised in different cities -- nor do they avoid controversy -- one woman says emphatically that her relationship with her sister is larger and more important than any disagreement they might have. Ultimately, these sisters have at the hearts of their relationships the willingness to cross great expanses -- physical, emotional, even spiritual -- in order to be and remain connected. In fact, it is the wanting to be close that makes these sisters so. There's JoAnn Lee and Lynell Kollar, for whom a family arrangement meant that one girl was raised by their grandmother in New Jersey, the other lived with their parents in Texas. Yet both women describe their relationship as being richer than perhaps sisters brought up in the same bedroom. They use terms like "soul mate" and "unconditional love"; "cohabitation," they say, "has never been a prerequisite for's more about where your heart is than where you live." There's actor Kadeem Hardison's mother, Bethann, and her best friend, Marta Vargas. The two met as adults and were instantly fused in a friendship that rivals that of other women bound merely by genetics. They speak of their spiritual, soulful, mental connection, though most of their get-together time is spent on the phone. Yet they'll talk literally all night long if a personal drama is working itself out in either of their lives, as was the case when Marta's mother died. There's Shirley and Lynn Hopkins, who drew on everything they knew about sisterly bonds to get them through the tragedy of a car accident in which Shirley was left with severe head trauma, comatose, and ultimately in need of prolonged and intensive rehabilitation. It was Lynn who traveled four hours every weekend to help care for her sister, talking her through her coma, being a pillar for her sister as she progressed through her rehabilitation, even taking Shirley's hand in a tender moment at a basketball game when Shirley had forgotten how to walk up steps and couldn't maneuver the bleachers; Lynne guided her, encouraging her every inch of the way. There's even the charming story of little Yhanni James, who more than anything wants a sister but instead gets a brother, and then finds it difficult to contain her disappointment. Later, when her mother has a third child, a girl, seven-year-old Yhanni is bursting. She's remains elated even as she learns how to process conflicting emotions over the loss of attention from family members, attention that used to be hers exclusively but that has now shifted away from her and toward her baby sister, Thandi. The women on these pages represent a variety of lifestyles and have experienced sisterhood in its many manifestations, from the heartwarming to the stark. Yet all of their lives have been enriched -- in some cases even sustained -- because of the ties that bind them to a sister. And in every instance it is the choosing to be close that makes these women so. They sometimes travel long distances to be together. They stretch across potential divides of rivalries or disagreements, of tragedies or nontraditional family arrangements. And it is their willingness to stretch that becomes the ties that bond, the recognition that they are truly sisters not just because of the physiology of genetic makeup, but because of their hearts wanting it to be so. by Diane McKinney-Whetstone Copyright © 2001 by Diane McKinney-Whetstone