Iconic Women of Colour by Bristol writer Candi Williams tells the fascinating stories behind 38 inspirational women of colour, all of them ground-breakers, risk-takers and game-changers. Candi tells Bristol 24/7 about unsung heroines and Bristol life.
What inspired you to write the book?
I think there has never been a more important time to tell the stories of wonder-women who’ve achieved extraordinary things throughout history and today.
Every day in the news, we hear about sadness, tragedy, inequality, xenophobia and a lack of fairness. I think that many people are feeling that their voice isn’t represented at the moment, so I hope this book serves as a reminder of the power that just one person can have.
I know how hard it can be to stand up or stand out – it’s often easier to keep quiet or blend in, so I wanted to share stories of women who have made a difference against all odds. I hope the book inspire people to believe in their inner superpower and be bold for change.
How did you approach selecting the 38 women of colour who feature in the book?
It was tough! There are hundreds and thousands of women of colour who have achieved incredible things so whittling the list down wasn’t easy.
I knew I wanted to tell the stories of unforgettable women throughout history and those achieving amazing things today. Legends like Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama and wonder-women today who not everyone will have heard of – like Chidera Eggerue (The Slumflower), Leomie Anderson, Philomena Kwao, Nikita Gill, Carmen Perez and Bristol’s very own, Kalpna Woolf. So, that helped me decide.
Also, I wanted readers to be able to take something away from every woman they read about. That’s why every story includes wonder-words of wisdom.
I learnt so much writing it and felt truly inspired by everyone I wrote about so I hope others feel the same.
Which women of colour have influenced you the most?
Lots! I’m a huge, huge fan of Michelle Obama. And the amount Oprah has done – and raised – for charity blew me away. Personally, I think we all have a responsibility to the world around us and the work she’s done is breath-taking. Serena Williams influences me massively too. The media have constantly hounded her for not being a size 8 and not wearing a tiny tennis skirt, rather than focusing on the fact she’s one of the most successful sportspeople of her time. She hasn’t let it stop her and has got up stronger from every setback. She’s awesome.
I’m also loving some of the epic women changing the narrative on social media, keeping things real and unfiltered – like The Slumflower, Nikita Gill and Grace Victory. The changing face of the modelling industry is fantastic too. It is so refreshing to see gorgeous women of all shapes and sizes, with real stretch marks and scars, representing fashion and beauty brands.
In the introduction to the book, you write: “Let’s keep changing the world and making history” What changes would you like to see happen?
I’d like to see more equality and a world where your path in life isn’t so often defined by your sex, how you look, how you talk, or your parents’ income. A world with less austerity and greed; where the views of the people are better represented in boardrooms and political decisions. A world where more is done to stamp out hate and encourage understanding, kindness and compassion.
What effect do you hope the book will have on readers?
I hope it reminds people of their inner strength and that their story matters. The world can do a fantastic job of making us inferior sometimes, so I hope this reiterates that women are kick-ass heroes who achieve game-changing, stereotype-shattering things every day. We got this.
What impact does Bristol have on your writing?
I love Bristol! I started my writing career here, wrote the book here and feel constantly inspired to be creative in this magical city. There’s something amazing happening here every week. Some of my best ideas have come from a Saturday morning coffee in Mark’s Bread or a workshop in the Folk House! Bristol is definitely my happy place.
Iconic Women of Colour by Candi Williams and illustrated by Phil Shaw is out now. For more information, visit https://summersdale.com/sd-book/iconic-women-of-colour/