The other day one of the responses to my piece about Phil Anselmo, racism and metal a gentleman joined Medium to say this to me:
If I look back to an Internet far, far away in a simpler time, the author had a little online diary. I will spare y’all most of the details, but something happened. At one point I started writing about Blackness, my life as a Queer Black person, Black lady stuff about my hair and whatnot.
Along came possibly not this Angry White Man but enough who said, this exact thing. When I saw the comment come in I read it a few times and oh how I laughed. I wish I still had access to a few old email addresses because if this is not the same Angry White Guy who has followed me around (I can’t tell because I can’t see the IP) from my old online diary, to Livejournal, to my first times being published to my first non-fiction publications- then Angry White Guys, y’all should hold a meeting and come up with a new thing.
The fact is, nearly every time I’ve published something in the last 20 or so years that involves a personal narrative, one or many Angry White Men come out of the woodwork to ask me this question or chastise me for talking while Black or having an opinion while Black AND while being woman appearing. Sometimes it is the amazingly brave and up front anonymous Bill Bothers type who bravely steps forward to say this, sometimes it is comments, in the last few years, it often comes in the form of private messages, emails, comments etc across my social media accounts. I understand that in the modern age when you click on something, see a photo of a Black woman and begin reading how shocking it must be that she talks about her Blackness. I mean the audacity of people who are not Angry White Men not to be speaking to Whiteness, or about Whiteness is staggering.
I am a sweet, kind, loving Negress and because I am so sweet I will take a moment here to explain how this shocking turn of events has occurred.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but the short explanation is as follows. For many of us Black folks, talking about our lived experiences, writing about them and generally being Black with a voice in public is how we connect and teach. For me specifically, it is about rejecting the prescribed enforced normativity of Whiteness and contributing my voice to the Zeitgeist of the African American Diaspora.
Oh shit son.
That got real didn’t it?
The less five dollar word answer is this. Part of the work I do involves talking about my life and surprise that involves Blackness.
One might think, it is almost as if I am a human being with a passion for expression mainly in the form of the written word in the same tradition as a whole lot of other folks.
I’ve thought about it over the years and I do acknowledge how freaky it must be to suddenly be presented with so many people who are not just like you.
I know it seems like just yesterday when people like me, and the other non Angry White Men just weren’t really allowed to speak on their own behalf. For a long time in Western culture, our stories were told by men like you and many of those stories were not real. They were told in a manner that made them comfortable for you to read. They were for you.
These days, folks like me and other assorted Queers, women and people who are not Angry White Men have voices and the ability to tell our own stories. You are no longer in control, you are no longer the source or the authority. And that, my friend must be terrifying.
Here is where I finally answer the question. I’ll stop teasing you now Angry White Guy.
The answer is yes and no. If you are familiar with my work I write fiction (caution Black folks in there), poetry, essays and blog posts. In any of these, even if I’m not writing directly about Blackness, Blackness is there because I am a Black woman.
Just like the White authors I presume you’ve read or heard of, I don’t separate the essential parts of who I am out of my work.
The larger answer is that Blackness, Black lived experiences are so deep and diverse across the diaspora, it thrills me to be a part of it. The fact that when my friends and loved ones have grand kids, they will be able to look back and hear me speak is amazing. It is vital for me on a personal level to know that I can be part of the kind of representation in literature that when I was a little Black child did not have access to.
Now here is the bad news. These, shitty pants, passive aggressive, cowardly, whine filled shitbag “questions” have yet to keep me from being Black as Fuck whenever, where ever, however I want to.
I don’t feel threatened or bad or scared or whatever, the point is, I laugh.
I actively refuse to silence myself because Angry White Men are crying about not being in control of my voice.
I will continue to write about the intersections of my life. About how I experience things, like heavy metal and literature through the lens of my Blackness.
In America I am not in a position of power. I don’t influence the law. I live in fear that someone who is in a position of power over me might end my life or otherwise hurt me in a huge way. And you Angry White Guy are not that person I really fear.
Compared to the Angry White Men I really fear, this thing you keep doing is more akin to toddlers being annoying. I might want to be mad for a second, but that is just what they do and this, is just what you do.
Now, rather than just offering up this gentlest of clap backs, I have some solutions.
When you are wandering around the internet and you happen upon something like this in the author photo section of an article or story:
Understand that it is your content warning for possible Blackness.
You sir, have your warnings. Your signs that something may be amiss in the world that is supposed to be only about White people and the normalcy that Whiteness ensures. I know I can pause here for a moment so you can gather yourself.
Now that we’ve established that you likely can find the warning where Blackness might be at hand, the next step is to take a deep breath and if you don’t want to read something where Blackness is prominent, you have a fast safe escape route.
Hit that X on the tab or whatever and flee. You run for your very life sir. Fortunately for you, us Black folks and other assorted people who are not just like you have yet to fully take over the internet. You have time.
Last thing is you can leave me and others like me the entire hell alone. This piece wasn’t entirely inspired by Bill alone. It was inspired by years of having White men vomit their hurt feelings on me because I don’t necessarily write to cater to their needs. Yesterday before I started this piece, one man spent a good three hours creating user accounts across four or five different platforms, and an email address all to send me the same type of message that after hour two on Tumblr got violent and threatening.
I spent a few hours clearing out increasingly disgusting messages and threats from this Angry White Guy and it got tiring. I’m not mad, I’m not hurt, I’m not scared, I’m not contemplating not writing anymore I’m just tired.
Here’s the thing. White folks never have to engage with Blackness. I do. I have since I was born and will until the day I die. That being what it is, rather than going out of my way to do so in a manner that is not real and not true to who I am, I do what I do.
For every Angry White Guy who asks me if I write about anything other than Blackness, who gets in my private messages to school me on what he thinks is the correct way for me to be Black and then vents his anger that I am not under his control and calls me a Black bitch- I get tired.
The problem is not that Blackness oozes from damn near every word I write. The problem is that you, whomever you are either have no self control and compulsively hate read what I’ve said and try to use racism to silence me. The problem is that you and don’t get it twisted I mean you in the macro sense, take the time and go through the effort to anonymously say silly shit to me hoping for some outcome I can’t predict.
To wrap it up, Bill and other assorted dudes like you, do you.
I will continue being Black As Fuck and writing about it and living it. \