One of my most popular and successful works of last month is one where I wrote about being Black — shocking I know. The difference with that piece vs others was my intent. I wrote entirely honest about how I feel being Black in America. Keep in mind, that came in lieu of another racist police encounter.
Afterwards, I slowly felt a strange sensation. Being a vocal marginalized writer is uncomfortable on levels I didn’t think much about until now. — I’m being viewed under a microscope.
As I saw what white readers were highlighting of my story, I kept thinking; I’m not the first person to share these feelings. So seeing what this was interesting? I even got some responses from white readers, which I’ve hidden from the public---many not worth reading. The reason being is that they are merely gestures to me that ultimately don’t help. — if you’re going to offer apologies…how about you back it up with a protest with your white colleagues? Or you know actually advocate for us?
Then my thoughts focused on how I interact with social media and by extension “my brand”. The uncomfortable feeling is that for all intents and purposes I’m a show.
To be more clear, people look at me, my work, and how I conduct myself online as if I’m some kind of “negro whisper” if you will. I know this isn’t exclusive to me, you can see it applied to practically all vocal marginalized people — Regardless of their professions and positions of society.
Although, I have a small reach the fact remains; The larger one’s platform, the more visibility is focused upon them. This has people view you in ways you may have not intended. This is an extension of how we are placed in categories and labels. It happens obviously, but there’s a sense of how disingenuous it feels.--I would imagine, this must be worst for people with fandoms. Although we have our defining professions/intent we are still much more than that. I’m still a person & a perfect set of ideals.
It’s a very strange feeling to know as you try to help to unravel society’s problems you’re under a magnifying glass. You’ll get the strangest comments from people about reality that they play a hand in. You’ll get the most patronizing unsolicited “advice” as you speak about well documented crimes. You’ll get the most empty sentiment in reply to societal shortcomings when again you’re still a victim of it.
I’ll use a racial example of this experience. So nearly three quarters of white people don’t have non white friends. Thus, it’s not so surprising many would latch on (in an unhealthy fashion) to minority/marginalized writers, activist, and so forth online. Ye,s you can see this happen with people following queer, gender nonconforming, people of color, and etc. What’s still very unnerving to me is to use one voice as if they speak for a whole existence.
It’s as ridiculous as hearing “I have a Black friend”. Our thoughts and work should be viewed as separate constant reminders that there’s work to be done with society. All our words and actions are not documentaries of our respective experiences, we are not a monolith. They are also not always matters for discussion. I and others write for our contributions to be read/seen/understood for that point at hand — at least that’s what I think.
If I was to extend this phenomenon further to the other work I do, it’s like that feeling of being the only Black person in the room. Which I have to say, is not a good feeling. That said, this is something I just have to deal with…in nearly all corners of my professional writing career and when I demand more of society.
This is why when I write articles that are necessary; lack of diversity in journalism/tech/etc, I feel tolerated, not so much heard.
I’m certain that my work and thoughts are viewed as “oh there’s that belligerent Black man”. In all honesty, I’m not here to make friends as I demand fairness for people in all aspects of society. I most certainly am not in the business of compromising my views for the sake expanding my career either. The reactions to these very real matters are the same. I’m a niche and I’m someone that people see as a voice only.
Looking from the outside; I’m not marketable, I’m not tolerable enough for the majority, and I’m really here for the few. I understand well, I have a particular audience (which I’m glad to have) and write to/for them. I’m also very aware that I’m allowed a certain reach as well.
When you speak against the majority of views and or the falsehoods people wants to believe, you standout. However, it isn’t always the most positive of experiences. As I continue to be whom I am and take this all in I remember there’s a reason for this.
After last month, not only was I surprised with this unease but it has inspired me into a new creative project. — Something that surprised me
What’s very unfunny about this all, as I feel uncomfortable with this and I’m a cishet Blackman. I can only imagine it gets further frustrating with the more intersections someone has. This is why that will be an ongoing conversation as well. Those myriad of feelings are something else.
So I go forth with this uncomfortable feeling and make something of it…I guess?