Even before the release of Slay In Your Lane on 5 July 2018, ripples of excitement could already be felt, not just in the publishing industry but amongst the multitudes of black British women in the UK whose unique experiences have largely gone ignored. What ensued after its much-anticipated launch can only be described as hysteria.
Since then, the ladies who wrote the book have not been short of media attention with high-profile publications, including Elle UK, Pride and Stylist magazines, queuing for a chance to interview its authors, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené.
Yomi Adegoke, journalist and senior writer at women’s website, The Pool, and Elizabeth Uviebinené, brand marketer and writer are the two black British women who joined forces to create this much needed handbook for life. What is more, they have enlisted the help of a catalogue of black British women also “slaying in their lanes”, from the fields of entertainment, sports, politics and business to bring us the black girl bible. They share their truths on a vast range of topics, covering everything a woman needs to know from education and careers to dating and health. The book features an amazing line-up of black British role models such as news presenter Charlene White, Labour politician Dawn Butler and the first black Publishing Director of British Vogue, Vanessa Kingori MBE, to name a few.
Asked about her motivation for writing Slay In Your Lane, Uviebinené describes her recognition of the lack of motivational material out there that spoke to the heart of the black woman. Even the greatest self-help books could only go so far in dealing with the unique challenges black British women face. “These were written by white women and were great, but they didn’t have the added complexities of how to be a black woman and get ahead”, she explains in an interview with The Guardian.
So why exactly is The Black Girl Bible everything we’ve been looking for?
Aside from its hot pink cover with gold accents, what I think is most remarkable about Slay In Your Lane is its crystal clear focal point. Between the hypervisibility of African American culture, and the colour blindness of the UK, the black British experience often gets lost. Like fellow author, Renni Eddo-Lodge, writer of much acclaimed Why I’m No Longer Speaking to White People About Race, Adegoke and Uviebinené have decided to focus their efforts on bringing the stories and histories of black people in Britain to life. What Slay in Your Lane does however is magnify the voices of women. To quote from the book, “black girls are largely rendered invisible”. This is what makes this book not just attractive, but necessary.
Another reason we love Slay In Your Lane is the diversity of voices that have been pooled together to bring it to life, and the honest way in which it covers a vast range of subject matters. Whilst our blackness and Britishness unite us, our experiences are different. We are nuanced. And the book respects this. No matter who you are aspiring to become or which area of your life needs some life spoken to, there is always something that can be taken away.
Lastly, it’s the sense of sisterhood that it evokes. Reading about some familiar scenarios is both heart-warming and alarming. The fact that black parents are still having to caution their children to “work twice as hard” or black women are still under pressure “to speak more softly, dress more formally, smile more broadly”, as described by Adegoke, proves that conversations around race have become an urgent need in the UK. After all these are the extra hurdles that many black women are having to jump over, that our white, male counterparts couldn’t even fathom.
There is no doubt that Slay in Your Lane has come at the right time. The addition of Meghan Markle to the British monarchy and the recent crowning of Dee-Ann Kentish-Rogers as Miss Universe Great Britain, the first black woman to hold the title in its 66-year history, means we are becoming harder to overlook. What Slay in Your Lane does is add to the message of progress and hope in the face of adversity.