Smile, Black Girl

I enjoy being a girl. Especially a black girl. I enjoy my curls, my curves, and my culture. I know I’m full of magic and mystery. It’s the secret ingredient that adds flavor to my words. Often imitated, rarely duplicated, I’m Godly ordained for this role and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But I also know being a girl, a black girl, comes with a certain set of challenges that not everyone faces.

Them: “How does it feel to be a black author?”
Me: “You mean, how does it feel to be a published author? It feels great! How does it feel to be a black girl in the publishing world, that’s a whole other answer.”
Crystal’s post earlier this week highlighted some statistics. Bottom line, straight white women run publishing. I’m WILDLY outnumbered in the genre, gender, and race categories. I’m faced with microaggression, stigmas, and idiots daily. My very existence in this industry is used as a weapon against the ridiculous ideology that “black books don’t sell.” I must represent my community, knowing I will be deemed problematic for exposing our underbelly but a fraud if I don’t, all while accepting advances that are a mere quarter of what my white YA counterparts receive. Unlike them, I have the added pressure of proving EVERYONE wrong and doing it with a pleasant demeanor. Otherwise, I come off aggressive, a.k.a  an “angry black woman.” One snarky tweet or smart ass remark at a panel can have me branded, limiting the few opportunities I’m afforded. Honestly, I’m exhausted.
Smile, black girl. 
Stop looking so mean, black girl.
Entertain us, black girl. 
Expose us to your culture so that we may appropriate it, black girl.
Let me touch your hair, black girl. 
Make us money, black girl. 
Prove them wrong, black girl.  
Be grateful, black girl.
But don’t ask for help, black girl.
Don’t tell them our secrets, black girl.
Why are you tired, black girl?
You’re a queen, black girl.

 

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Tiffany D. Jackson is a TV professional by day, novelist by night, awkward black girl 24/7. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film from Howard University and her Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School University. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves with her adorable chihuahua Oscar, most likely multitasking. Her debut novel, ALLEGEDLY is due January 24th, 2017 through Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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  1. Thank you for this post. Every opportunity to expose institutional racism needs to be taken. Hopefully it sparks dialogue because our aversion to confronting its existence is a huge part of the problem.

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