skip to content

Department of Sociology

FLY Girls by Sheena Zhang for Verve Poetry Press

Join us in the Pitt Building on Fri 11 Oct for a book panel with the authours of A FLY Girl's Guide to University - Lola Olufemi, Waithera Sebatindira and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan.

The panel and Q&A will take place from 3:30-5pm and will be followed by a book sale (with discount) and drinks reception.

The event is co-hosted by FLY, WomCam and the BME Campaign, and sponsored by the Faculty of History, lgbtQ+@cam, Equality and Diversity, and the Department of Sociology.

About the book:

A FLY Girl’s Guide to University is a collection of memoirs, essays, poetry and prose from four women of colour who studied at the University of Cambridge. It is a multifaceted calling out of the wrongness underpinning their shared experience at Cambridge, and the experiences of others in similar institutions throughout the UK. By investigating the structures of domination that shaped their university lives, the authors go beyond a desire for mere visibility and seek to encourage students to imagine and struggle for a liberated higher education sector.

"The purpose of our book is simple: we believe that our lives, our experiences, and our voices matter, especially in a place of power, pervasive whiteness and exclusivity. Our voices not only deserve to be heard but must be because the ‘Cambridge experience’ of a middle-class, white, cisgendered, able-bodied man is not the only one. Ours cannot be silenced.”

"We came together through FLY, a network specifically by and for women and non-binary people of colour at Cambridge. As members of FLY, we were all vocal and active in feminist and anti-racist politics, as well as adamant about intersectionality – whether in education, research, creating spaces on campus or in our campaigning."

You can read more about the book in Gal—Dem and Varsity. A FLY Girl’s Guide to University is available for purchase at Verve Poetry Press.

About the authors:

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is an educator, writer and spoken-word poet. Her work interrogates narratives around race, gender, Islamophobia, feminism, state violence and colonialism. She studied History at Cambridge and Postcolonial Studies at SOAS. Her debut poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter, was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2019 and she is the founder and author of, and co-author of A FLY Girl’s Guide to University. Her work has over two million online views, she was the 2017 Runner-Up of the national Roundhouse Poetry Slam and short-listed for the 2018 Outspoken Prize for performance poetry. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio stations, ITV, Sky TV, the Islam channel and more and she has performed at music festivals, Universities nationally and internationally, at TEDx conventions, mosques, protests and slams.

Waithera Sebatindira is a Law graduate from Trinity Hall and recently completed her MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies at the same College. While facilitator of FLY, and with the indispensable support of its founders and a group of committed women of colour, she expanded the group’s membership and reach. During this time, Waithera developed a black feminist ethic that continues to be informed by the work of inspirational women she reads and meets – especially this book’s co-authors. She went on to become the first woman of colour to hold the position of full-time Women’s Officer on the Cambridge University Students’ Union and, during her tenure, campaigned on behalf of woman and non-binary students on campus while coordinating decolonial efforts across campus.

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist and organiser from London. She graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English Literature in 2016. She facilitated FLY, the group for women and non-binary people of colour at Cambridge from 2015-16 and held roles on the BME and Women’s Campaign. She was the Cambridge University Students Union Women’s Officer from 2017-18. During her time at university she was heavily involved in student activism, working on, amongst others: the establishment of support for survivors of sexual violence, decolonising the curriculum and opposing the marketisation of higher education. She is currently the NUS Second Place on the NUS Women’s Campaign & sits on the National Executive Council. She is a masters student in Gender Studies who is interested in black feminist thought as a vehicle for thinking about the self and others and disrupting systems of power. She is currently writing a book on reclaiming feminism for young people which will be published by Pluto Press in 2020.