Why I’m Not Writing free shit about racism right now.

In the last few months, every now and then someone asks me why I haven’t written about racism in a while. Some of these queries have come from a really nice place. Folks who miss my voice and whatnot. People who love my work. It’s not the worst.

That said.

Most of those folks haven’t asked me what I am doing.

That is a problem for me as a creator. I don’t only write teary rage filled racial pain porn screeds. Really, I write a lot of other stuff. Last weekend I woke up to a private comment here at Medium that included this bit:

“so disheartened to see you moving away from important political discourse and writing such (she linked to my writing blog here) filth. I can unfortunately no longer support you or your writing until you make better choices.”

This woman said a bunch of other stuff because she’d gone to my website and read some of my back catalog. And my recent thing about the little erotica story I wrote. I wrote a whole newsletter about this and how it made me feel and included this response that I made to the original comment:

While I appreciate that you’ve enjoyed my political posts wherein I bleed on the page for free, I see that you did not love them so much that you were moved to tip or otherwise see that you did not share any of the beloved posts in order to center or elevate my voice.
I can only assume you didn’t love them that much. I also can assume that you don’t love my work enough to respect that I am more than racial pain porn. Nobody has to like or love everything I write, however, what you do or don’t like is not my problem.
I’m not mad at you, I am irritated. There was zero reason for this comment, except to ruin my day and congratulations, my day is ruined.
After 5 PM PST I will be deleting your comment and would appreciate you not contacting me again. I have no desire to write for you for free because you don’t like adult material.
Peace out,
Shannon Barber

You can read more about it in my last newsletter here (and while you’re there subscribe, I’m awesome).

I want to mention a few things.

Instead of telling me what I should be writing, especially if you’re not trying to pay me ask me what I am doing.

Let’s talk about that.

I’m working on finishing the next iteration of my self-care book.

I’m close to done to Poetrybookbaby#1 and started on Poetrybookbaby#2.

I’m writing and sharing my first urban fantasy novella. Folks are helping that happen at Patreon.

The other real thing?

Look. I’ve been writing publicly about this stuff for a long goddamn time. And frankly, as I said in my piece here about the election y’all didn’t listen. When I wrote the pieces, giving White feminists the actual instructions for getting their intersectional shit together, the pushback lasted for months because they didn’t like my verbiage and tone. When I wrote about the burdens I face as a Black female presenting person, y’all ain’t listen.

I have been more than open about the rock bottom of how to start working out how privilege functions in our lives, how to start not being or behaving in a racist manner, I’ve wept while I wrote about Black children being the victims of state sanctioned extra judicial murder.

Thousands of words.

Thousands of hours of work, the majority of it unpaid.

Hundreds of hours of being harassed, dealing with the hurt feelings of people I wasn’t talking to on a personal level.

Enough bullshit that I shut down my author facebook page, I limit the contact I have with strangers all so I can do the shit I’m supposed to be doing.

That’s writing.

I am a working writer.

And frankly, if you can’t be arsed to look into my back catalog for the stuff I’ve already said, if you can’t be bothered to say hey, I want to pay you to write/teach about this thing- what are you doing?

Once upon a time, I would have said these things on principle. Pay writers! Honor Living Artists!

I’ve added a whole new level to that.

My work, my time, my energy is worth more than virtual hugs and the occasional signal boost from a proud self-proclaimed ally.

My voice is valuable. I don’t have to give everything away. If you really want it, my back catalogue is FULL of the stuff people have asked me to write again. Although, most of the time there are requests for niceness, not to be “divisive” to be a diluted version of the Angry As Fuck Black Person I am.


Especially not for free.

In the meantime.

How about the tiniest of excerpts from my self-care book?

What does self-care mean? Is it the sassy, GIF-worthy, “treat yo’self” meme? Is it what therapists suggest in cognitive behavioral therapy? Is self-care the “right way” to do life? Yes and no.

When I talk about self-care I’m talking to marginalized people about caring for yourself through bad times, unlearning harmful messages, and teaching yourself how to think differently. Reframe what self-love looks like and how it functions in our othered lives. Yes, treat yo’self if you live in a body that is not normative, disabled, fat, trans, genderfluid, sick, etc. Learn how to go beyond survival and thrive. Smash the binary idea that either you are doing it right or wrong. Smash the cisheteropatriarchal notion that if you are not chasing the Thin White Ideal or Toxic masculinity that you’re not worthy of self-care. Boot out the ableism, the racism, the Whiteness,- the things that harm marginalized people.
Change the game. Make the whole idea of self-care conform to what marginalized people need in their lives. What do we need? We need resources that don’t assume privilege we don’t have. We need resources that don’t tell us that we’re creating our own misery, that we’re not trying hard enough if something doesn’t work for us.

That is my passion work. A bite of the introduction. Revolution is happening.

No bites from the poetrybookbabies.

Real talk.

I am not at all shy about my position in life.

I am not shy about saying exactly what I need from people who support my work. I constantly say, if you can’t tip okay but there are other things you can do. I’ve said it eleventy forty seven times.

And because hardly any of that type of support save from a small circle of ride or die loved ones is done, I am not inclined to spend my spoons doing more free shit for people who only support me conditionally. It is a struggle I’m tired of dealing with. I’m tired of trying to dig my way out of the mire when, I run the numbers and see that I might potentially be fucking up my life doing this stuff.

If you have expectations of me and aren’t willing to do something beyond demand my attention, take up my time and work my damn nerves, just skip it. I’m not here for it.

I didn’t write this just for those people.

I also wrote it for myself as a reminder.

And for those who have this same experience, we are worth more. We are not bound by imagined convenient solidarity to produce for “the cause” when “the cause” didn’t hold us down to begin with.

And if this is too many words let me leave an image to explain:

[image description: Photo of Samuel L Jackson from Pulp Fiction with white text. On the top it says, STARES. Across the bottom it says, MUTHA FUCKER’LY]