In the Blog

Adebe D.A.: Writing for Social Justice

February 25th, 2010     by Desirée O     Comments

Every other Thursday I profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else!

So without further delay, let me introduce the amazing Adebe D. A….

Adebe D.A. is a Toronto-born writer and former research intern at the Applied Research Center, home of ColorLines magazine. A recent MA graduate in English/Cultural Studies, and Cultural Editor of Race-Talk, Kirwan Institute’s blog on racial politics, she writes on issues related to race, social justice, migration, and the phenomena of culture. She currently holds the honour of Toronto’s Junior Poet Laureate and is the author of a chapbook entitled Sea Change (Burning Effigy Press, 2007). Her debut full-length poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, will be published by Frontenac House in Spring 2010, and she’s this week’s Shameless Woman.

What drives you to do what you do?

I’m a writer inspired by life as it happens - that goes for both my creative and journalistic work. I seldom wait for inspiration to strike; I’d rather find the spirit in things, the spirit of change that exists even in things that seem to stay the same. The activist in me is inspired by the possibility of what might come to pass, which requires that I take the plunge and never fear what my mind or heart tells me. The artist in me is driven by the urge to get my vision out there at all costs. I am also continually inspired by others whose vision matches the contours of my own, so that my art doubles as a learning process.

How does being a woman empower / challenge you?

In the course of co-editing Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out – an anthology on the experience of mixed-race women in the 21st Century – I’ve come to realize that being a woman is empowering and challenging in many of the same ways being interracial is: our voice in the socio-political scheme of things can and will be heard loud and clear if social justice is something we consider important. It is a ripe time to reconsider race matters, gender matters, and why continued dialogue into race/gender will always matter. This is a complex question that I hope the mixed-race women (and young women) writers who submit their work to me will think about.

What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?

The world is your oyster, and a deeply beautiful place. Sometimes life requires a leap of faith, but you won’t know the extent of what’s possible until you dive in.

Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?

Person: Yourself. Take time to get to know yourself, explore your talents, learn to love who you are and cultivate the person you want to become.

Place: The Tenement Museum in NYC - after the extensive tour, I spent hours in the gift shop. Every young woman should take a bite of the Big Apple at some point, you learn so much about yourself and the world at once. Visit

Thing: Shameless Magazine! A good number of years back, I was on the magazine’s Teen Editorial Board, an amazing time that led me to take my writing seriously. I continue to support everything Shameless does: it’s a beautiful magazine that all young women should read.

What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?

Think honestly about your role in the world. It’s about seeing your responsibility first, and potentiality second. You won’t know the extent of what you can do to change the world unless you see your stake in the world. Does this contradict my above “know thyself” point? Not at all! The most progressive and creative thinkers, the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across, were people who truly knew what they stood for and held fast to their values. They were also the most friendly because they were not insecure - they saw absolute beauty and possibility in the world and in others.

Make sure to check out Adebe’s debut full-length poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, which will be available Spring 2010.

You can also visit her blog at

If you’re interested in submitting to Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out, you can find the submission guidelines by clicking here.

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