I stopped writing a few months ago, maybe longer, with no recollection of the exact date or time but simply the feeling around the decision. When I sat in front of the keyboard, I felt the blood in which I had previously used as ink covering my hands, making them sticky and sluggish in movement. [Note: research ways to properly contain and then dispense unsavory emotions, like anguish and turmoil, so that the process of documentation isn’t interrupted by stress-induced naps, binging, crying, or all of the above] I will admit that for this weirdly ambiguous period of time, I was afraid of writing.
When you have things to say, when your breathing increases with each keystroke, when you pause and occasionally consider white/academic/social gaze and when you wonder if anyone will actually care what’s being said…those are the moments that are most critical in terms of truth-telling and sharing your experiences. I believe marginalized folks, but black people especially, deal with self-imposed restrictions in regards to what we should share, what can be written or told, and if it’s even worth it. I find myself gauging and weighing the importance of my thoughts on a regular basis, which is a toxic practice that I am working out of. I think I began writing again because I realized the importance of black voices within dialogue and how blackness is wantonly removed or erased from critical theory. I was looking for an excuse for my silence, a voice that would speak for me.
Previously, I’ve clung to Morrison or Walker and other black women writers as mouthpieces for my feelings on integration, my legitimate distrust of academic whiteness, and other issues around race, class, and general positionality. Upon further thought, I realized that being required to quote well-know or published black authors to validate my lived experiences was another disgusting aspect of white supremacy leveraged within various spaces and usually in dialogue with less-oppressed folk. Relative to the insanely vast catalog of white thought on all matters pertaining to anything they see fit to write about, black writing is scarce. I realized that my silence and deprevation were coming from a place of spiritual and communal draught. I firmly believe that black folk are powerful as individuals, and while there is another energy that we tap into as a collective, there has to be a moment though, when you understand your own power and worth as a black person, a divine being living within a human context. No one else can accurately define our experiences for us and maybe in that same vein, no one can accurately define my experience better than me. That is why I began writing again, because I could no longer deprave myself of reflection, and therefore self-realization.
“For me as an artist, the amount of self mutilation that one does as we grow up to fit in…often what drives my work is literally remembering myself.” – Junot Diaz