Authorâ€™s note: this was written in February, 2011–undoubtedly during a blizzard.
Two weeks ago, I grabbed my red marker and wrote on my noticeboard, â€œopinionated writers.â€ Earlier, I perused Twitter and my RSS feeds, feeling inferior about my own work. â€œI need an emphasis,â€ I said to myself. Iâ€™m troubled by my growing indoctrination. An emphasis? I had an emphasis. I think.
Once, I was a stupid twenty-something, espousing esoteric, anachronistic angst regarding racial disparity; Iâ€™ve since learned black people are as screwy as everyone else, and equally susceptible to self-sabotage.
Then thereâ€™s Egypt: Mubarak was comedic fodder for my tweets, and he bounced soâ€”onward with the search. The world is a veritable cavalcade of wonders and horrors, of sunshine, lollipops and pistols. What the hell is my problem?
Iâ€™ll lurk in the shadows of my favorite sites and blogs. The topics are serious; even when the site is quirky and bubbly and replete with 80s referencesâ€”can we move on to the 90s?â€”everyone seems so worked up, so passionate. I got worked up the other night. My wife was upset because the local hip-hop station played a song from 2003 and called it â€œold school.â€
I got mad at the phrase; I proceeded to rant for ten minutes about the nebulous definition of â€œold school,â€ which devolved into a diatribe on hip-hop itself: how it refuses to grow up; how its Peter Pan complex is of its own design, making â€œold schoolâ€ music a sliding scale, a term relative to the listenerâ€™s age. Itâ€™s a hollow phrase used by crusty old-heads clawing for the â€œgolden ageâ€ of hip-hop, a period that never existed.
Letâ€™s move on.
A fellow blogger called on me to add perspective to her post on the VIDA count. As I wrote, I listened to the emcee Common; his song started off with, â€œI heard a white manâ€™s yes is a black maybe.â€
My comment on the VIDA post juxtaposed gender disparity in literature with race, because the hesitation of black writers to submit, to say nothing of acceptance, is similar to that of women. Similar is the not the same as the same but same difference. Iâ€™m writing in circles.
Itâ€™s presumed black writers create for black readership, a tribal exchange spoken in foreign, culturally irrelevant tongues; I know when I pick up a novel written by a woman, independent of her race and nationality, I arrive at the same presumptions. What VIDA exposed was a truth we all knew, men and women, and my hurling race cards like Gambit was my passion expressed, though muted.
In my comments, I wanted to write, â€œStop the self-aggrandizement because you read Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz. Anyone can read Pulitzer winners. Widen your reading habits and all of this other shit will correct itself with timeâ€”at least itâ€™ll expose sexist, racist pigs once everyone else is enlightened, for lack of a better word.â€
I didnâ€™t write that. I posted a comment without stating my stance. That bothered me, but what helped removed the irritation was the initial request. Maybe I undervalue my own opinions, or perhaps I over-inflate the vitriol I expect to receive, but Iâ€™m always shocked when someone wants my opinion. Iâ€™m not one to offer it unsolicited: such is the life of the fat introvert.
Authorâ€™s note: the previous sentence is no longer applicable to said author.