I am a black woman. No denying it, no hiding it. As hard as the world tries, I love the colour of my skin. Even though I disagree with aspects of it, I love my culture. Hell, I even moved back home to stay and study in Zimbabwe/South Africa! These are facts.
I feel, however, with current global race relations, it is expected for all minorities to have an honorary mental PhD in Race Relations. Born ready to be summoned to fire statistics and articles when commanded. Prove you’re suffering or it didn’t happen. Yet somehow we stay hit with the same questions, like ‘why can’t I say the N-word?’ and ‘Is blackface a real and serious problem?’
As a writer, I feel like it is expected of me to write about how racism affects my daily life. Be proficient in colonial history, Jim Crow, slavery. That the only way to get noticed and make a name for myself is through writing about the black experience. Even now, articles penned by black journalists and writers, seem to almost always revolve around these themes. Not that there is anything wrong with this. Many of these people are experts in their field and deserve to be decorated and acknowledged as such.
However, I take great issue in this idea that it is the only line of work expected of all of us. Like black people are one-dimensional being, only being able to write about our trauma. There seems to be this idea that this is all the black experience is.
Don’t get me wrong, racism does affect my daily life. There will never be a situation where my race doesn’t influence or seep into my pieces. As I have said, I am proud of my heritage however, writing about these topics isn’t something I am keen to explore deeply.
You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem. As far as opinions go, I don’t class this as very controversial, but for some it is. They see it as a sign that my race is something that causes me shame/ something I refuse to acknowledge. I was even told once it was anti-black, even reminded by the person that I wasn’t a white (like I could forget).
I write to escape. I am black every second of everyday but for a couple minutes, I can create, vent, imagine a life outside myself. I can write stories with black protagonists finding joy, unburdened by trauma. I can step away from the constant exposure of black pain.
This doesn’t mean I am ‘ignoring what is going on in the world’. I tweet about the world, share articles/petitions on it, I read on it, study it. But at the end of the day, I want to explore the other parts of my identity. There are a plethora of writers I could recommend who do a brilliant job of exploring these topics. Both in-depth and through various perspectives. And they most certainly do better than me!
I want to write stupid articles on TV shows I like, or my mental health. Of course, race and ethnicity will feature as it is a part of who I am. But there is more to me than the trauma and injustices I go through day to day.
At the end of the day, I am black mixed with black. Not writing explicitly about it doesn’t change who I am, where I come from or my beliefs. I will continue to read and study on it but I assure you, the world will not miss my contributions!
ZUVA is an award-winning Leeds based spoken word artist, poet and freelance writer. Click here to join her weekly mail list to get her — Comprehensive Guide for True Beginners — Things I Wish I Knew Before Publishing My First Piece. It contains over 16 articles by 12 different authors on everything you need to know before publishing your first piece here.