Can I tell you a secret?
For many years I have been more than happy to only focus on educational antiracism work 1. because it makes me happy to encounter Troublemakers out in the real world (you know who you are!) but 2. it also clearly defined the parameters of my own public vulnerability. It’s hard to talk about the ways America has tried to steal your joy and then share about the things that bring you joy in the next breath. It doesn't feel like resistance; it feels like tempting fate.
[side note: I’m a buy-a-new-paper-calendar-to-mark-the-new-year kinda girl. I know I’m only going to use it until April, but still. Buying said calendar makes me feel like anything is possible at the New Year. Well, after experiencing 2020... I just couldn’t buy a calendar when 2021 rolled around. That felt just a little too... hopeful, optimistic... like I was tempting fate. You know? Same with publicly discussing my racial trauma and the ways I escape said trauma] It was just too much.
So, I was happy to put a fence around my life and have you believe that you knew all of me- or at least the most important parts of me. But in telling a single story about myself, I started believe that’s all there was or could be.
Now I’m changing the way I engage with racial justice and changing myself at the same time. Making the shift to using antiracism work as a creative tool that can be used to joyfully change our communities and empower Black people and other marginalized folks has been generative. Rather then participating in the soul sucking work of trying to change the hearts and minds of any white person nearby, I am now in the business of encouraging, affirming and reminding Black women of their own power- not in a flowery, fairytale kinda way, but in the way we speak to one another’s hearts. Because Black women are allowing me to be myself in the antiracism space, I am feeling more inspired to show up in my public life.
And this is where I’m going to start telling my own stories.
Her Full Self is all about storytelling. Black girls, you know that if your friend ever begins a story with, "Remember that one time..." hilarity is about to ensue. Someone might get embarrassed. There could be some moving revelations. You might get an on-time word. Or a trip down memory lane is about to remind you of how far we've come together.
Every story in this newsletter will begin with the same Black girl phrase, "Remember that one time..."
Following there might be a story about a simple joy, like breakfast. Or there might be a story that explains why my armpits itch all the time. I can’t wait to tell you my story about skinny dipping (because that is definitely something I thought only white people did). And I might make up some stories too. They won’t all be biographical. But you'll have to read to the end to find out if each story is fiction or non-fiction.
And you won’t just get my stories.
I’m also going to ask for some assistance from my writer friends to share how they Black girl (thank you for turning that phrase into a verb, Amena Brown). Because the way I do it isn’t the only way. There will be some stories that you resonate with deeply. But other stories may feel foreign to you because your experience has been completely different. That’s good. I want to hear them. I hope you will use the comments to say, “Me too!” or “Let me tell you my story” because I bet there is someone out there who knows exactly what you mean. How wonderful for just a few moments of connection… a quick “Hey, Girl, I see you!”
Sometimes we all need is a “Hey, Girl, I see you.”
One of my favorite things in the world is Black Girl Commiseration.
“Okay, purple twists, I see you out here.”
“Yes, legs, talk to us on today.”
“Oh sis, can you tell me if this is the right hair color for me? 1a or 1b?”
“Um she did that okay?! Let’s all give her a round of applause because she did what? That!”
“I’m finna be on my way right now. You know I gotchu.”
And don't get me started on the communication that happens with a hand clap, a foot stomp, a high five, or taking a lap around the couch yall sittin on.
Black Girl Commiseration is everything and I hope you feel it here- not because we are all the same, but because we can appreciate one another and our differing experiences in ways the world can’t be bothered to.
Together, we will use this space to explore pleasure and our own culture and the things that delight us. We will speak of the things that drive us crazy but only to the degree that we experience relief from doing so. We will make up some stories because we are unsatisfied with the stories folks are telling about us. We will create from a place of joy. We will practice joy. We will practice delight. We will practice pleasure.
All I want is for you to come here for 10 minutes in your week and feel full.
This is also the space where I’m going to share all kinds of updates with you because this isn't the only new project on the horizon (wiggles eyebrows conspiratorially). I’m collaborating with some of my favorite people to try writing new content, bring you new stories, find more connections beyond our trauma. Even within this newsletter, I might bring you a little poetry, a little fiction, a little video series, some audio content and many more thoughts! As its all developed, I can promise you this: we will be at the center.
I'm making the transition to Joy, Justice & Storytelling.
Have you heard that editors are constantly giving the advice “Show, don't tell”? Well, I've been doing a lot of telling. I've been explaining the work of antiracism. Now I want to engage my own creative passion and show… show what could be.
Once a week (sometimes more often if I have something really special to tell you), I'll show up in your inbox or you can visit me here. We will commiserate, and I hope you'll leave this space feeling more connected to your full self.