After a conversation with two lovely writer friends about the importance of not muffling ourselves and our (very necessary) voices in public - and, maybe more importantly, not letting others do the muffling for us - I’ve decided to make a focused, determined effort to assert myself and my opinions more and to hide behind jokes less.
When I moved to Toronto in 2004 and New York in 2009 and London in 2012, I learned firsthand, personally, relentlessly the destructive nature of white supremacy. I came here at 17—almost an adult, but still young enough to turn inwards when threats materialized.
For me, having grown up in Côte d’Ivoire, racism was a largely theoretical proposition; I understood the history and the texts and the context, but reality was different. In grade 7, my English teacher said a thing I wrote was so good that it must have been plagiarized; she backed down only when my English teacher from the previous year, another white woman, legitimized me. But when white teachers, or administrators or the parents of classmates, were shocked by black excellence, I had an arsenal of models with which to reject their racist perspectives: all of my friends were black and brown kids for whom black and brown excellence was the norm, for whose parents black and brown excellence was the norm. Every day was filled with a multiplicity of black and brown ways of being - poor, rich, kind, cruel, noble, corrupt. I knew nothing was inherent to blackness and brownness but living.
When I moved to Toronto in 2004 and New York in 2009 and London in 2012, I shrunk, because that arsenal of models kept getting further and further away. The violence of white supremacy is inevitable, even in adulthood. Friends who met me then and know me now wonder how it happened; Jahmal asks how a person goes from supreme confidence to paralysis by self-doubt so quickly. Writing about M.I.A. this week helped me get closer to articulating my own feelings.
“[Monday night] was Usher’s surprise birthday party in L.A., and I found myself in the middle of the dance floor with Justin, Usher, Jermaine Dupri and Puff. And Justin looked at me and he had the biggest smile on his face and he said, “This is awesome.” And he was just dancing and laughing, and he was the fun-loving Justin that we all want to see. He didn’t have security around him, and he didn’t have any of the Justin I saw a couple months ago of just not trusting anyone. That’s one of the things he told me, a month, a month and a half ago. He looked at me and he goes, “I don’t know if I can trust anyone.” And that’s a tough place to be, especially as a 19-year-old.”
Anonymous asked: do you like cats? or dogs? what animal would kanye be?
Cats are great and I’m a little scared of dogs but Kanye would either be his own species of animal or else maybe he’d be a bobcat.
Anonymous asked: how come you so funny
How come you so nice?