Hello again. It’s been awhile. Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been away from my blog (well, for months) lately, as well as all my other social media. To be honest, its probably anxiety and depression, cocktailed with a tarte mix of hope and hopelessness. And sadly, that’s not me trying to be relatable.
They’re not kidding when they say that depression shit sneaks up on you. They also don’t say how much time you’re going to spend on hold for a digital therapist or the national suicide prevention hotline. Imagine my disappointment when I heard there was a 30 minute wait just to speak to someone. I don’t know if they know this, but depreciating mental health waits for no one, fam. But in the words of Tisha Campbell, I’m still here.
I think one of the worst parts of depression as a creative is to not fully understand how you even get there. “You have such a cool job!” “I wish I could do what you do.” The compliments make you feel as though you’ve done everything right, but when you can’t perform your craft anymore, it feels like we don’t measure up. Even while limiting my content consumption (or so I think as I spiral into WandaVision analyses on YouTube) and even creating content, I still suffer from “fomo” or fear of missing out. It’s a weird dichotomy of being stressed about missing days of posting on Instagram, YouTube, the blog and TikTok when you’re also in dire need of a break from producing content in the first place. I’m not going to lie, I’m about to bring race into this shit, too.
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a Black woman, and not many people talk about how depressing that lived experience can be when trying to build a brand for yourself. Of course I am proud of my Blackness, but the sad truth is it’s so easy to be reminded of why that nor your content matters because you nor your culture really ever gets to belong to you.
When people say that being an influencer is an undertaking, they’re not lying. There’s no manual for influencing. Not to mention, those who have the “made it“ are less likely to show you the ropes, especially when you’re not white… or light…or thin…or queer and non-nappy-headed in my case. It doesn’t escape me mind that the only growth I’ve personally seen in months is out of guilt from the protests from summer 2020. I watched several brands, who have never even sent me a pitch email as an editor, pluck photos from my Instagram page to share in a collage full of other familiar Black creators who I had never seen on these brands pages prior. Ever since then, none of those brands have ever reached out to me for a collaboration nor have they even tried to pitch me. It says a lot.
As a Black creator you sometimes have to ask yourself “What does my work actually matter to people?” “Do I exist to be someone’s trump card for those who get accused of racism and excluding oppressed folks?” The answer is yes and no. It’s something that I am still trying to grapple with. In my heart of hearts, I know that no amount of “Black-owned” plugging in the world is going to end microaggressions in real life. Nor is it going to abolish the prison industrial complex keeping countless families apart. I know capitalism isn’t our savior, and as a creator who wants to make a difference in spaces like beauty and fashion, it’s kind of defeating.
Living In A Doll House
Creators of color often utilize the discrepancies they face to create art that reflects them. However, once the rest of the world catches onto how that art is produced and how it can be consumed, it’s ripe for the taking.
Recognizing just how much of a commodity you are is just a tad bit devastating. I’m not surprised. Look at history‘s accounts. However, it doesn’t make this self-actualization any less real for me. Not to mention, a year after George Floyd’s death, the same state that’s being tried for his murder kills another Black man. But wait! Black folks can mentally escape from that reality. Just read the secondhand accounts of the final two episodes of the Little Marvin and Lena Waithe-produced show Them. A Black baby is murdered while the mother is sexually assaulted. The creativity allowed to be exposed to mass audiences is this? We’ve hit 2021 and people are still begging for something a Black joy story. How can I even dream of turning my little blog that seeks to empower fat people, queer people and Black people, and those at the intersection of identities into something bigger? How can the Black joy and fat joy I want to portray compete with a trauma-thirsty audience and white Hollywood execs who think they know best?
What I know now is that there’s a much bigger fight ahead of me than I ever realized. I no longer have to hold onto hope that privileged creators won’t perpetuate racist and sexist stereotypes reducing Blackness to a sidekick or magical Negro role. Instead, Black folks with access to the main stage of the creative field have taken it upon themselves to give the vast amount of white audiences, no matter how liberal they may claim to be, a few fantastical moments of violence on Black people that can validate their own internalized racism. (Because as long as black people use the N-word, it’s OK, right?)
It’s hard to come to terms with the idea that Uncle Tom (or Uncle Ruckus if you’re a Boondocks fan like me) is the only “good Black” who’s deserving of mainstream clout as a means for White America to reckon with its own guilt and try to push for representation as a quick fix to a centuries-old issue. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how reckless and reductive that inclusion may be for all colored folk.
I have no idea what I’m doing with my life or with my creative projects. But I know I’m not ready to give them up for a “real job.” I’ll find out which of them brings my Black ass joy. And to be honest, I owe it to myself to do so.