Stella Dadzie: 'Women resisted slavery at every stage of the journey'
The feminist writer on racism in her London childhood, her new book about female slaves, and the part Ghana played in shaping her identity
Stella Dadzie was born in London in 1952 and is best known for The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain, co-authored with Beverley Bryan and Suzanne Scafe, which won the 1985 Martin Luther King Memorial prize and has been republished as a feminist classic. Her new book, A Kick in the Belly, explores how enslaved women in the West Indies found ways to fight back. She is a founder member of Owaad (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent), a group that emerged in the late 1970s to campaign for black women’s rights.
Tell us about the title, A Kick in the Belly…
The slave owner Matthew “Monk” Lewis visited his plantations in Africa and kept a detailed diary, including an entry about witnessing a black woman being kicked in the belly. It’s a useful metaphor for the experience of black women under slavery and the attack on the core of their being. I also wanted to emphasise that they kicked back.