Greetings people. I identify as a Black female who was born and raised in NYC. I am slowly progressing through my study of education and history in college. Other then that, I spend (probably) an unhealthy amount of time reading and writing sci fi and fantasy. But by high school, I got sick and tired of the same story featuring blonds and brunettes saving the day with their straight, lean male heroes so I turned to my librarian seeking something new. She pointed to Octavia Butler and the rest was history. I’ve been seeking diversity in media ever since.
Family life and Culture
I grew as the middle child of six siblings with my single mother and grandparents. Yes, my working-class household fits the stereotype. We even have an absent father *sighs* But, hey shit happens. And with the biological father turns out not to be the best father figure, shit had to go right out the door. Yup. But make no mistake that this is a norm. Most households on my block do have both parents involved in their children’s lives. Our circumstances called for us to have one. That’s all.
The house was full, loud and rambunctious. We made up a good portion of the children on the block (unsurprising) and basically ran it. There’s a whole novel that could be fleshed out of my childhood if I wanted to. Our neighborhood is very tight knit. Next door neighbors were treated like Aunts and Uncles. When summer came around, we were sometimes divided into groups as the parents who were off from work overlooked us while braiding our heads. Blackouts became an all night bbq and sleepover on each other’s porches. Crooklyn by Spike Lee was a good representation of what it was like in fact. Somewhat. Minus the brownstones, plus a couple more fights (lol).
My grandma was a nurse who’s pretty big on us knowing our family history. She made sure to talk a lot about our Gullah Geechee roots. We also had some Dominican culture influence since her closest friend and our Madrina was, well, Dominican. But she is fairly strict on gender norms and how my sisters and I should act especially with brothers. She antagonized me the most growing up because I continued to ignore this. We don’t get along but i can’t say i don’t get why she’s the way she is. She has a pretty dark past. My mother, a latchkey kid of the finest stock, is more laid back and gives all of us free range to make our own mistakes. Most times. Other times, she’d rather lecture us. Depends on our crime.
I don’t know what my grandpa used to do. He retired waaaaay before my grandmother. I also don’t know much about his culture. He’s 1st gen Jamaican who fully assimilated into American culture. Well, beside his food choices. Now, he gambles and goes to church. When I was younger, he used to teach us how to gamble too. And how to cheat and not get caught. We got a lot of free fast food while he taught us. He has gotten more frugal the older he got. And more isolated.
Dating and Relationships.
I don’t date. I have no interest. Well, no, that’s not exactly true. I’ve considered it but I rather have not seek out anything outside of platonic right now. I have a tight knit circle of friends and several other groups of friends I associate with depending on the activity. I’m realizing it seems like I’m using the term “friends” loosely but I swear I’m not. I’m a virgin and I feel nothing about being one until someone goes “*gasp* You’re a virgin really?” and then I end up on high defense saying “So?” Believe or not, that messed with me a lot.
My love life and lack of interest in having one has always been a struggle. In middle school, the group of friends I hung with were becoming more infatuated with love and sex. Yes, middle school, fifth through eighth grade, ages nine to thirteen. But, when they would talked about who’s hot or not, they would look at me funny when I didn’t join in the discussion. Instead of explaining myself, I simply copied other’s reactions and gushed along with them. This instinct followed me through High school til stopped out of annoyance. I became a listener and adviser in their relationships because I really do love stories in many shapes and forms. And I would never turn down hearing a story.
My primary language is English and AAVE. I’ve been living in a neighborhood filled with Blacks and Latinx. Most of my friends are Black and Lantinx. I didn’t meet a white person my age until college. Okay that’s a partial lie. I’ve been in a summer camp that was made up of predominantly white children. But as the only black kid in my age range, I was sorta uncomfortable. I never made lasting friends there. After High School, I spent a year abroad in Tena, Ecuador where I learned Spanish and Kichwa. I still suck at both languages.
Lots of my clothes when I was younger were borrowed or hand-me-downs. Half of them still are. It’s like thrift shopping without the hiked prices thanks to its popularity by rich white people (Thanks rich white people!) All my siblings’ taste varies. In my case, I’m fond of combining loose and tight clothing (tight jeans and a loose sweater/ baggy jeans and a tight top). No makeup. Silver accessories.
I used to have a short bob cut permed. I hated it. But I rather a perm then getting my hair straightened with a hot comb because the back of my neck and big ears would always get burned. It wasn’t until I made a friend with a natural afro that I realized my natural hair was even an option.
Lol I was a nerd with bad grades.
My family practices Santeria, which has historical roots in both Catholicism and Yoruba thanks to slavery (Yay slavery!). However, because the religion is not fully accepted or well-known, I tend to say I’m simply Catholic if asked. Apparently, a Black Catholic is hard to believe. It is assumed all Black folks are Baptists or some branch of Christianity. I have no idea where that stereotype came from. But I can give some guess. (*cough cough* Tyler Perry….).
As I stated before, I love scifi and fantasy. I especially love urban fantasy involving witches. I blame this love on Practical Magic and Eve’s Bayou, my childhood faves. It’s because of this love that I wish to see more stories with witches of color. And no, I don’t mean that one evil/mysterious southern/Caribbean Voodoo/Hoodoo witch hollywood loves to portray so much. That always plays into the “Black is evil” trope. Give me some damn variety!
I would squeal so hard if the mythology involved in a story isn’t even Eurocentric. I’m not joking. This is serious. When my religion was simply hinted at in the Raven Boys series (It was also a great way of making even more obvious that the character was definitely not white.) and Kenya Wright’s Habitat series, I squealed. All the authors did was write the names of some of the Orishas and I couldn’t help but put my phone down for a moment and inwardly scream with glee. That being said, if a writer does decide to use afrocentric or any religion involving “witchcraft” as a basis, I would personally ask that they make sure is is not a closed religion.
Santeria is, in fact, a closed religion. And while I don’t mind mentions of it in fantasy and even a main character stating they practice it, do not go any further than that. Don’t even research the practices within the religion other than what is public knowledge (And if you don’t have any public knowledge, just ask) Respect that there’s a limit. Anything further spelunking is consider rude, disgusting, disrespectful and dangerous. There’s things that I don’t even know because I haven’t been properly initiated. And the internet has a lot of these practices exposed when it shouldn’t be so please don’t look into it. Please.
Most of the cooking in the house has been done by my grandmother. Because of her various relationships, our food has always been a mixture of Black American, Gullah, Lantinx and Caribbean influences. It is so good. So, so good!
The only thing I don’t eat of hers is her seafood gumbo because I don’t like shellfish. One of my sisters said I should have my “black card” taken for my distaste. I said she could take it if she can name more black movies than me. She still can’t take it. My other sister wishes we could switch places because she loves crab but is allergic. The crazy girl actually sends her husband to buy some benadryl so she can eat some if we ever have some on the table. Smh. Siblings.
My family on both sides are quite fond of reunions. On my grandpa’s side, the family uses Fourth of July and Christmas to get together. On my grandma’s side, they tend to host annual summer reunion and send out RSVP invitations complete with schedules of the whole two to three day event. I didn’t mention this under my family life, but both sides of my family are boujee to different degrees. Lots of black sorors and frats members on both sides. I can’t believe that slipped my mind typing.
I’m a little iffy with Christmas. It’s more of a holiday for the older generation and our niece and nephews. The younger generation, however, don’t particularly care for the holiday. For some of us, it’s because it’s not really Jesus’s Birthday and Santa was whitewashed. For others, it’s because we don’t care to feed into the corporate holiday. For most of us, it’s a combination of the two. But we do love getting together when we can. My older sister and I have conspired to celebrate kwanzaa instead for the past two years. So far, it hasn’t grasped the interest of anyone else in the family.
Being nerds from a young age, my siblings and I have been called “Oreos” or“Not really black” by kids in school on more than one occasion. We shut them down by fighting. Probably not the best strategy but it was best one I could think of in middle school and below. Made it easier to go back to reading my manga.
I got compared to my sisters a lot. It was the absolutely most annoying thing ever. And a major source of my insecurities growing older.
Need I address colorism? My highschool was filled with it. #TeamLight v #TeamDark. I was on neither team, because in the region I live, skin color was a pretty long spectrum. I fell in the between. Who came up with this?
I’ll admit it. I hate my own tears. They make me feel weak. Which isn’t true…I know. But, it is a mentality I always had. I have depression and PTSD. This isn’t really a secret. I tell people if I’m asked. But have you ever had someone look at you and say, “Really? You don’t seem like the type.” ……
I am a black female. I’ve been labelled “Strong” and “Independent” the older I got. By my mother. By my siblings. By my peers. And I get those labels. Even from friends. I loved those labels. I call myself by those labels. I mean, who doesn’t want to be seen as strong and independent? Those are positive affirmations, right? I think they would be. If that wasn’t all the positive labels we could get. Somehow, society has decided we are beings that are incapable of being multifaceted. I was indirectly taught to hate my own tears because black girls don’t cry. You can’t cry and be strong. What a terrible mantra fed to black girl at a young age. So, instead you tell everyone “It’s fine.”
I told my therapist it was fine. Until she told me straight up it was not fine. And it was okay to cry. I don’t like to cry. But I still (involuntarily) did it.
Things I’d like to see less of/Things I’d like to see more of:
I’m sick and tired of seeing black and latinx folks being portrayed as only fantasy gangs members. We are not only gang members. That’s a terrible popular myth the media put out there and I hate it even more so when it’s portrayed in SFF genre..
I’m tired of having one black person in a novel being described as having skin the color of “midnight.” And he’s (it’s always a he) not even that important to the story
I hate how every time someone decides to add a person of color, they have to be ambiguous brown. I’m not saying ambiguously brown don’t exist and don’t need representation but is it really that had for a dark brown skin person to play a major role in a story that’s not about slavery? Speaking of which….
Why we always gotta be slaves? Or better yet….
Why don’t we exist at all in High fantasy stories? Urban fantasy? Brooklyn wasn’t always the gentrified white town it is now. Still isn’t. How are you erasing people of color from NYC??? We make up way too much of the population to be completely erased
Stop racial coding other creatures to surround your white human characters. Especially as the bad guys. That’s just shitty writing. Step up your game!
I love Black love
I love Gay love. I wish more would follow moonlight’s example and show poc are gay too and gay doesn’t always equal to stereotypical femininity.
I love interracial love HOWEVER, can we pair people of color with other people of color as well? I’m starting to hate seeing it always a white person paired with a Poc. Variety damnit!
Friendships between boys and girls that don’t transform into love.
Friendships between girls that didn’t start out as a rivalry.
Different body types besides the skinny and tall. Make a main character that’s fat for once. It’s not a problem.
Magical characters of color that aren’t “Noble Savages” or “Wise Monks” that used their magic for personal gain for once instead of waiting for the white hero to come.
Nerdy black characters who aren’t 100% competent and cries. One that isn’t in a five token band that always gonna be compare to the white main character. Make the nerd the main character!
That’s all I can think of at the top of my head. But my list really does go on.
In order to address the role we play in violence against Black trans women, we cannot be silent or idle. We have to accept our privilege and disassemble society’s gender expectations to ensure their safety and humanity. We have to understand that as Black cis women, we are closer to the gender conformity spectrum than our Black trans sisters. We are at a far higher advantage because of our accessibility to womanhood. When we stay silent, we are seemingly accepting that the navigation of our gender comes at the expense of our Black trans sisters. Our complicity becomes violence in itself.
I am a woman I am black I am a black woman I am single I am a single woman I am a single black woman I am a mother I am a single mother I am a single black mother I am the mother of a son I am the single mother of a son I am the single black mother of a son No matter how you put it. According to societal standards, I am a statistic. That makes me angry. Angry that I am not seen as a person A living, breathing, feeling human being. I bleed when I am cut I cry when I am sad I eat when I am hungry I get sick I get tired I feel happy I feel joy I feel pain I am real More than a stat on a paper My life matters My son’s life matters We matter…
Elaine Brown, Former Leader, Black Panther Party (The Summer of Love: How Hippies Changed the World)
I wanted to be white. Like so many black people do, but they’re not prepared to make that confession.”
Regarding the above quote, I wasn’t sure if she meant just African Americans or if she had travelled all over the world and met many black people, and had projected her views onto them. I can only speak for myself and say I have never wanted to be white.
I feel like everyone needs to UNDERSTAND that being ‘Black’ goes beyond skin colour. We can all bond over nappy hair and full lips but please understand that BLACK is different depending on the country you’re in/from (not even continent). For example, in Nigeria, everyone is black. It doesn’t come with any qualms. The world says because they are sub-saharan, then they are black. Cool. Their culture is defined according to their tribes and NOT according to their race. Cool. Move south to South Africa, it changes. To be black (collectively speaking, irrespective of tribe/language) comes with a different history and daily livelihood (compared to the black people in America for example). It now is not just about the skin colour but is also about language, music taste, food choice, schooling, home address, clothing stores, mode of transport, university lifestyle and a million other things. And these are unspoken truths but most of them are really all about the culture as a black South African (generally speaking that is). What I mean is that black as a race in South Africa comes with a wide array of cultures specific to the country and the different provinces. So when, as a black American, an African tells you that it’s not the same, please try and understand that it is not the same. Being Black is more than skin deep and is more than the whole slavery history situation.
Transracial adoption first became a controversial issue in the early 1970s. A heated public debate occurred about the transmission of African American cultural identity to Black children adopted into White middle-class families. The central question in these debates was whether or not White parents were capable of teaching their children African American culture and history, and inculcating them with the skills necessary for Blacks to survive in the racially unequal United States. Concerns over the transmission of identity have shaped public opinion and social policies regarding racial matching between children and parents since the 1970s. Transracial adoption became a contentious public issue after the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) released a position paper in 1972 stating their opposition to the practice, citing their concerns about racial identity and survival skills as the basis of their objections (NABSW 1972).
The Black social workers’ critique of the ways Black children were treated in the child welfare system was a contestation of state-sanctioned regulations determining which families African American children would become part of, and thus be socialized by. Their protests against transracial adoption were largely motivated by a concern for the futures of African American children and a desire to strengthen Black families, and were often politically grounded in Black nationalism. Policy changes reflecting these concerns gradually occurred at the state, county, and agency levels. While standards varied in different regions, in most areas of the country adoption agencies became committed to the goal of racial matching whenever possible. Many states drew up regulations governing how long agencies could spend searching for same-race placements.
Transracial adoption receded from public debate later in the 1970s, and received very little media attention until the early 1990s when it once again became the subject of fierce public discussion. While arguments against this practice continued to focus on racial identity, the political context of the 1990s had changed. Whereas in the earlier debate attention was focused on the importance of racial matching between children and parents, in the current political climate the debate has led to new federal policies promoting “color-blind” adoptions by prohibiting the consideration of race in the adoptive placement of a child. The public discourse concerning this issue goes beyond the specificity of transracial adoptees’ lives. Indeed, this policy dialogue has implications for political struggles over teenage pregnancy, “illegitimacy,” and welfare reform.
While the current public dialogue is explicitly concerned with issues of race, the linkage of transracial adoption with welfare reform, tax credits to adoptive parents, and the termination of (birth) parental rights reveals a more implicit agenda focusing on women. In fact, the 1996 law was explicitly designed to combat “illegitimacy” among welfare recipients. In a political context dominated by proponents of traditional “family values” as the solution to the supposed “breakdown of the family,” celebrations of adoption as a panacea to the “epidemic of illegitimacy” among “underclass” women and the misfortune of infertility among primarily middle-class heterosexual couples must be viewed critically. This political dialogue sounds disturbingly similar to early-twentieth-century eugenic prescriptions for strengthening the White race by limiting the reproductive capacities of “undesirables”— namely, Black women, immigrant women, “imbeciles,” and “immoral” women. In the shifting political alliances and commitments of the 1990s and beyond, adoption has become a curious battleground on which the social meanings of race and identity, gender and family, work and poverty, culture and nation are being constructed, contested, and enforced.
Sandra Patton, Birthmarks: Transracial Adoption in Contemporary America (2000).
For the last ten years I was positive I was gay. I landed somewhere on the spectrum and would jump orientations every few years until I thought I got it right. I even went through the trouble to confess to my parents and close friends. My life changed that day and I quickly realized how fast people turn on you. Now, I don’t think I’m gay. I don’t think I ever was. There are people born that way, that’s true. But in my case I think I was just confused. I always appreciated the human form, male or female. But maybe that’s all it was, appreciation. And I never really fully identified as female, but neither male. I just accept that I’m a person with male and female energy and I express that more through attitude than looks. I was sexually abused throughout my childhood and basically up until I finished being a minor. It only makes sense something like that would leave damage. I always thought it was my anxiety, paranoia, and tendency to hallucinate. I don’t know why I never though it would affect my sexuality. I hate myself because everyone doubted me when I came out the closet. And this whole time they were right. I feel like a traitor. Like this whole time, maybe I was faking it and just didn’t catch on? Those feelings felt real, tho. But every time I experienced a real connection it was with a guy. No one knows I’m straight and I know if I tell them I have to tell my story. And I’m not ready to do that yet.
Beyond the Black Atlantic, however, another counterhegemonic discourse emerges and calls attention to the need for American literary and cultural studies to map the lived-experience of blackness in terms of its roots in and routes through Asian diasporas. Informed by the lived-experience of blackness of Afro-Amerasians— the mixed-heritage children born of both African American and Asian parentages— the emergent Afro-Amerasian discourse indexes a spatio-temporal site beyond the Atlantic that is not exclusively African-American nor Asian-American, African diasporic nor Asian diasporic, but is all of these at once; it points to an emergent site of critical inquiry which I’ve named the “Black Pacific.“
“Black Pacific” is introduced in this essay as a neologism, which discursively names an emergent site of critical inquiry and cultural space at the interstices of three diasporas. The first diaspora is informed by the experiences of African American men (of the Black Atlantic) who served and continue to serve in the United States military throughout the Asia-Pacific. Ever since Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry led the first United States naval expedition to Asia (1852– 1855), blacks have participated in the American empire’s military operations and ventures in the Asia-Pacific. In his personal journal, Perry noted that when he reached Edo (Tokyo) Bay in 1853, two black guards escorted him; together, they proceeded to march into the city to meet the emperor (see Perry and Pineau 1968). Since the Perry expedition, black men have continued to serve in the American military in the Asia-Pacific, throughout the wars there: the Spanish American War, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The second diaspora is informed by the experiences of Asian women who have had affairs with American military men, or who have become either “military brides” or “Asian-American immigrants” as a result of the American empire’s presence in the Asia-Pacific. In The Politics of Life: Four Plays by Asian American Women, Velina Hasu Houston (1993) explains that Asian women faced the difficult challenge of loving their American men, whether black or white, while attempting to remain loyal to their people; because the American empire’s presence was challenged by the Asian people, interracial affairs were complicated by not only the taboo of interracial sexuality but also the expectation of national allegiance among Asians. Consequently, Asian women who had interracial relationships with African-American men were often accused of being traitors of their race and nation.
The third diaspora is informed by the experiences of the Afro-Amerasian children born to African-American men and Asian women throughout the AsiaPacific, since as early as the Spanish-American war in the Philippines (see Shade 1980, 23). The Black Pacific, therefore, is a site of critical inquiry that is not only interracial (shaped by the interracial relationships between African Americans and Asians, and the Afro-Amerasian offspring of such relationships), but it is also interdiasporic.
Although both black and white Amerasians experienced delegitimization and encountered many forms of Vietnamese racism, the Amerasians of African American descent encountered antiblack racism that was believed to have caused greater suffering and heavier burdens. One Vietnamese woman, the mother of both a black and white Amerasian, contends that anti-black racism posed a heavier burden, and observes that black bodies were more often at risk of displacement than white bodies: “Vietnamese say, ‘You go back to America, you dirty American, go back to America. You lose the war already, go back.’ They say like that many times to my daughter, ’cause she is black. My son is white, not so many problems”. This mother’s contention that the burdens of antiblack racism were greater than antiwhite racism is supported by Huong’s testimony. She contends, “All my life people had been mean to me there [in Vietnam] because of my color. My skin is black, and my hair is curly, not like the Vietnamese, and they didn’t like that.”
Bernard Scott Lucious, “In the Black Pacific Testimonies of Vietnamese
Afro-Amerasian Displacements,” Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in
the Americas. 2005..
This year has been so hard for me. I’m STILL struggling to embrace myself as a black girl. Also, depression has came out of no where and I was seeing a counselor at my school to deal with it. My mom found out about my depression and anxiety, she was understanding at first. Then she found out about my self harm and she was mad. Telling me I need to read the bible and that I wasn’t raised to have anxiety. She thinks I idolize this stuff. Im not gonna tell her about my constant suicidal thoughts :(
“The first successful surgery performed with anesthesia occurred in 1846, but Sims never gave any to the enslaved women in his care. It is recorded that he subscribed to the belief that Black people did not have the same capacity to feel pain as white people, a belief that many people in the medical field unfortunately still hold.”
I am not a writer…but I am writing. I am not a writer but I’m writing to express — nonetheless — what I cannot control but wish I could.
my words breathe fire that my thoughts cannot usher into fruition
spreading across the page, set ablaze
this is my form of anarchy.
a literal arsonist against carcinogenic comforted cozy thought nestled in tradition.
catalytic in comment — kerocenic in movement
this is my mechanism of motion, and my outcry.
kinetic energy to electrify the souls and minds of go-getters, transgenders, “ne’erdoels” & rebels with reverence for what is right.
i love it how biracials whine and complain about rejection from black people like its cuz of their skin. no sweetie. the fact they were raised by white parents gives them a different psychological coating than black people with black parents. i notice many of them have the same passive aggressive and non-empathetic attitudes as their white parents. i say this as a quite light skinned multiracial AA woman myself. i never faced rejection for my looks and i dont see biracials as black people