#BlackSpecFic Feelings.

First, please go check out the work Fireside Fiction put in on this. 

Ahem.

For our purposes here today I’m gonna use this definition of spec fic from wikipedia:

Speculativefiction is a broad umbrella category of narrative fiction referring to any fiction story that includes elements, settings and characters whose features are created out of human imagination and speculation rather than based on attested reality and everyday life. That encompasses the genres of science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history, and magic realism.

If you’ve read me for a while, you know this is an area I love to live and play in. Also, please read this. 

My own experiences mirror a lot of those N.K. Jemison talks about. When I was a wee baby writer, I did not allow my Blackness in my work in a lot of ways. From the writing perspective my earliest lessons both overt and not were like so:

  • Anything involving Black characters would likely not be “believable” if they weren’t hood caricatures or portraits of racial uplift. That cut across all the genres I like to work in.
  • Blackness regardless of subject matter, genre, etc is often treated as a wee tiny box where ALL the Black stories must go.

I’ve talked about this before, but I can’t find all the links. There is a problem when as a writer, you do your due diligence and study the places you are submitting. For me personally if I go back more than 5 or so issues and see no POC or if the masthead headshots are all White men, if the stories are all in one vein under the guise of aesthetics and “goodness” those are not places I’m going to feel welcome.

A problem I (and I’ll venture to guess a lot of POC and especially Black authors) run into every now and then is when White editors are very obviously uncomfortable with Blackness or anything not White centric. Often this isn’t anything blatant, it can be felt in email exchanges where an editor doesn’t understand a phrase that isn’t “proper English”, or suggestions to do certain things (in my case it was an Orisha) more “mainstream”. The suggestion was to change the goddess/Orisha in this story to Aphrodite or, you know, a White one. Being questioned about not italicizing my Spanish. Being questioned about how “unlikely” (in a firmly spec fic story) it would be to have the protagonist be a little Black girl.

The first story I referenced, was published at Expanded Horizons and was my first publication in a spec fic magazine. That story (I just went a looked) was rejected 15 times. There was one nibble of interest, but the editor backed off when I said I would not rewrite to make it a Euro/White story.

The next story isn’t really spec fic (though my inspiration was) but the tiniest bit of unitalicized Spanish made it “difficult for most readers”.  (I can’t get to youtube but go there and search Daniel Jose Older and Italicized Spanish, it’s worth it)

The last story (it was Pushcart nominated) was rejected 16 times. The first nibble of interest, I spent about two weeks going back and forth with an editor who couldn’t see or understand how a little Black girl who is a shapeshifter would ever exist in a world where there are shapeshifters. This person also mentioned how my names for my creatures, Children of Apep, Daughter of Sekhmet etc would be too “esoteric” for “most” readers. I actually went back to read the exchange. Yes, references to Egyptian gods/esses as the names of shapeshifters is too “esoteric”. My references to Hyena and Crow were “not really relatable”.

For a lot of years, this is what I had to wade through when submitting so as I’ve mentioned before I just stopped.

This isn’t exclusive to spec-fic. The problem of overwhelming whiteness is one of literature in general. For me, the constancy of the racism in lit has just been exhausting. When I decided to start writing genre fiction again, I again found myself being unable to bear interacting with the community, reading fan stuff etc because shit always gets real racist real quick.

These are many of the reasons why I started self pubbbing my genre fiction. These are many of the reasons I stopped reading genre fiction too.

For the cheap seats. As a White person in a position of power in the lit world, you can’t just say you’re all for inclusion and diversity if you can’t demonstrate it. Words in this matter are useless. You have to act. As I’ve said many times before, you have to be uncomfortable. You have to understand that using Whiteness as the measure for what is “good” is a problem. Even if you don’t mean it.

Understand that there will be things and elements of work that don’t resonate with you and that is okay.

You have to do the work or you’re part of the problem here.

There are SO many easy ways to find authors of color to approach to feature their work, editors you can talk to. It’s not that fucking hard. It is 20 mother fucking 16. You probably have a computer in your pocket.

Listen to what POC have to say.

Read work by POC.

If you are totally into inclusion, be that shit. Don’t just say it. Do it. Do the work.

We exist.

If you’re a reader. Find the stories and books. Buy them, read them, check them out at the library, talk about them.

As a creator of things, I’d also like to say this.

Stop pretending that the statistics are shocking. Stop it. We all know racism is a real thing and permeates everything. Including literature. Including speculative fiction. Including SF and horror and everything else. Stop. White folks, you are not helpless here. There are tons and tons of articles, stories, etc. written by and about POC so maybe start reading them.

Do the work.

That’s all for now.

On Rejections and Thangs

Behold first a list of places I’ve been rejected from in the last few years. These culled from my Submittable (OH sidebar: if you ever need help with your Submittable account their CS is FUCKING STELLAR. Like really great.) account.

I MADE THIS.

Publisher *Interrobang Magazine*Bone Bouquet*Portland Review*Two Serious Ladies*Corium Magazine*Black Fox Literary Magazine*Menacing Hedge*kill author*Quickly*Jersey Devil Press*Looseleaf Tea*MUD LUSCIOUS PRESS*Red Bridge Press*d.ustb.in*Cease  Cows*Wyvern Lit*The James Franco Review*The Butter*Storyglossia*Necessary Fiction*Atticus Books*Knockout Literary Magazine*Girls with Insurance*Linden Avenue Literary Journal*The Molotov Cocktail*Word Riot*Camroc Press Review*SmokeLong Quarterly*Vending Machine Press*The Rusty Nail*Side B Magazine*Curbside Splendor Publishing*Used Furniture Review*fwriction : review*Word Riot*Belletrist Coterie*The Offing*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*The Offing*A-Minor*Word Riot*Bloom*The Midwest Coast Review*Leodegraunce*Eclectic Flash*fwriction : review*Stone Highway Review*Specter: A Curated Literary Website*Metazen*tNY.Press*ExFic*wtf pwm*[PANK]*fwriction : review*Camroc Press Review*Used Furniture Review*Unshod Quills*BLACKBERRY: a magazine*Gravel*Birdfeast*Necessary Fiction*Slit Your Wrists! Magazine*Wilde Magazine*10 000 Tons of Black Ink*Monkeybicycle*Counterexample Poetics*deactivated TOSKA Magazine*Little Episodes*Gertrude Press*ABJECTIVE*Battered Suitcase*The Monarch Review*Out of the Gutter Online*[PANK]*freeze frame fiction*Publishing Genius*Menacing Hedge*The Citron Review*Dark Sky Magazine*DREGINALD*Behind Closed Doors*Barn Owl Review*decomP magazinE*Necessary Fiction*Word Riot*The Rumpus

So if you get through that, you’ll see some repeats. Places that are in my mind big swing and miss type submissions.

I’ve been reflecting about the process lately since I don’t submit on such a rigorous schedule anymore.

I was reading something about rejections and I frankly refute the idea that it is always the writer.

The thing is that if you are writing from a perspective or about marginalized people in a way that is not the accepted (generally when it decenters Whiteness, heteronormativity, etc etc) there is an uphill battle, whether people who are closer to acceptable want to recognize it as part of the process or not.

After doing the submission thing and research things and reading thousands upon thousands of pages of what journals/mags publish, the struggle is real. I look over this little rejection list and this one from my race to 100, there are some I can point to as having probably been based on how I was telling stories about Black folks or Queer folks, rather than just my shitty writing.

Of course, there are times when I look back and cringe because things can always be better, tighter, more perfect, etc.

However, after going back through a lot of that work (and many of those pieces found homes eventually) and looking at the language in a lot of rejections (not just from this list but over a ten year period) I can say that I’ve seen some patterns and the patterns have fit in with my research.

Here is where I invite editors to pay some full attention, marginalized writers too:

  1. If I go through say five back issues of your thing and I see no POC, no stories about anyone other than White people in whatever form, I’m 99% sure if I submit a story about POC/other marginalized people you won’t take it. I often envision the, we love your work, but no fit yadda yada. For me, over the years, this has been a thing a lot.
  2. If you have words like diversity, inclusion or anything related and you haven’t done the work in your previous however many issues, see #1.
  3. If I’ve been reading and following your thing and you have a few POC or other marginalized folks and tend to only publish certain types of narratives, whether fictional or not, or the only POC you interview fall into a few distinct categories, see #1.

Etc.

One of the habits that has been ingrained in me since I was a wee baby writer age 19 in 1996 carefully copying addresses out of the back of Poets&Writers, I read where I want to be. At one point after I had my own computer (I think I got my first one in like 2001?) I had dozens of pages of individual notes on publications. I transcribed them from PW, from websites, from notebooks. I had a system. I spent two months writing like a motherfucker as much as humanly possible, I spent a month editing everything and then a month submitting.

This habit has remained with me, though I have learned to use trackers (GODS damn I wish someone had told me to do that back then) and figured myself out in terms of the truth of what I do, I’ve learned to read more closely and that is how I’ve figured out my system for parsing rejections and figuring out where to submit.

There have been times where I’ve spoken with editors, I can think of a few who really went to bat for me because I did not fit their standard narratives. That is gratifying.

Experience informs how I deal with my rejections.

In this phase of my writing life, I’m not as interested in trying to blaze trails.

I’ve got a big fucking mouth and I do indeed talk a lot of shit and occasionally name names. I’ve decided that rather than hold that in, I’m letting it out. I’m sure that will cause me rejections over time. It’s fine.

I realized during AWP and some subsequent interactions with lit world folks that I just don’t have the energy or mental health reserves to be one of the brick wall busting types.

I’ve hit fuck it.

I’ve figured out that I feel okay being a terrible self-published author.

I’m fine trying to hustle fiction out of my Etsy store like a literary pusherman.

I don’t hold out hope to be raised up by the loving hands of some literary agent.

I don’t really care if I get the Big Book Deal.

I’ve discovered the depths of joy I feel when small indie bootleg ass presses tell me if I do X thing, they want first look.

I’ve discovered the joy of putting something from my heart out that is flawed but touches other hearts.

It still fucks with me that people don’t buy my shit when I sell it.

It still fucks with me when I read things and I don’t see myself or other marginalized folks represented.

It still fucks with me when the literary community is largely a burning tire fire of racism and bullshit.

After all this, the real lesson is this.

This is a grind. Rejection alone won’t be the end of you. It is up to you as an artist to decide how to deal with it.

Now if y’all will excuse me, I have anxiety to deal with and shit to do.

Showing up Bloody.

Recently, I’ve been trying to deal with some trauma that I thought I had pretty much handled. Poverty trauma that reaches deeper than I realized it did.

I found myself having a really terrible day, flashbacks, really awful feelings, repressed panic attacks, bad enough to give me the shits for three days.

So I did what I always think is the thing to do and started writing. I started an essay (maybe my first long form) that is a testament to a lifetime of mental illness and how it has manifested and how the idea of the Strong Black Woman almost killed me.

The thing I’m most surprised about is that given my memory issues (related to my sleep disorders mainly) is the clarity of certain memories. Smells, how my skin felt, I close my eyes and see it. This is beyond confessional writing, I’ve done a ton of that over the last 20 years. This is exposure.

This piece is not the sort of confessional, I can smirk about and shrug because Shannon is gonna Shannon and not be embarrassed. This is stuff that makes me cringe. I want to say I’m sorry if I ask anyone to read it because it burns me. I know it will hurt the people who love me to know that has been my life and in some ways still is.

I’m fucking terrified.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I find being a memorist of any seriousness fucking scary. I know that in the scheme of Black writers and Black people and Black women, especially, what I’m working on could be one of those important little pockets of solidarity. I’m considering pitching it when it is closer to being done.

As I’m thinking about/researching that, of course I stop to wonder outside of a handful of pubs I already know, who would give space and cash to this story?

I know it is still very hard for the world (Lemonade or no Lemonade) to see that Black people have feelings, that we are human beyond the photos of our bleeding, broken bodies or scoring points or generally being acceptable but not quite human enough to see into. I know that when some people look at me, they want the Sassy Shannon Don’t Take No Shit and Don’t Need Nobody type. I know.

What I don’t know is where do I go to be a different facet of the purple lipstick wearing loudmouth? Where do I go not to rail about racism or other fuckery, but to show the world my emotionally bloody self?

I don’t know.

Or maybe I will self pub it as a mini memoir.

Who knows.

What’s important for me right now is to get it written. To confess. To strip off the last vestiges of the stone faced person I thought I wanted to be and show up naked and terrified but fucking there.

I’m there and right now that’s what matters.

On Racial Uplift and space.

I’ve had this on my mind for a while. This is something that bothers me and makes me feel somewhat conflicted.

For background, if you’ve read any of my work at all, y’all know I don’t really go in for racial uplift. If you don’t know what that means, very basically I’m talking about providing “positive” images of, stories about, and work about Black folks in my case. For some extra background this is a good place to start. 

When I was a lil baby writer, I tried very hard to work in the mode of racial uplift. For a while I stopped writing kinky fisting porn and overwrought vampire stories and tried to emulate the Wise Black Women writers who went before me. I wanted to write something like Phenomenal Woman, The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye- I remember writing in my journal fantasies about writing something that would set off a cultural bomb and fit into my ideas of racial uplift and what sort of Black writer I was supposed to be.

Given that all my writing at that time was done in absolute secret, by hand in notebooks I filled then destroyed. I wish I hadn’t, but that’s a whole other entry.

What I was doing during those years say about 16-20ish was desperately trying to discipline myself away from my porny, bloody, dark leanings and into the light. Into the Wise Black Woman ideal. Along with that I tried very hard to stop enjoying “bad” Black folks things.

I stopped watching Yo MTV raps, tried not to like any of my favorite rappers. I tried to glue some respectability to myself and my entertainment because it’s what I thought I was supposed to do.

I don’t want to get too deep into respectability politics but in my experiences those and racial uplift often occupy the same space.

So moving along.

I eventually grew out of that phase after a buttload of growing pains. And when I started seriously working on being published etc my first/strongest instincts led me to some magazines for Black folks.

However, being that I am who I am and the things I like to write I had a very hard time finding places to fit.

I remember sitting going through submission guidelines and ticking off all of the things I did in my work that were a problem. My horror had a hard time finding a home. My earliest non-fiction stories were mostly about things I liked then: being a Goth, going to punk shows/rock shows and my experience being an Alt oriented Black person in Seattle.

An aside. I remember I didn’t know how to write personal essays at that age. I didn’t know they were a thing and I wrote my non-fiction like school essays. I wish I had some now to look at.

Remember, I didn’t have Duotrope or the google machine. I had library copies of Poets & Writers, the occasional Black folks magazine. I can’t say I didn’t swing for the fences. I submitted to Ebony and Essence both. I also submitted to small Black folks lit zines and found that my work was not “positive” enough, my experiences being an Alt Black person were at that time (the 90s remember) too weird and exotic.

Fast forward to the last ten or so years and I observe a lot of the same thing.

I’ve worked with some folks who were very very kind about our difference of opinion about what voices and stories get to be told.

I’ve also worked with some folks who were violently opposed to my work because it is not generally “positive”.

What boggles me is that if we step back and look at the diaspora, there is space for all of us. There is such a rich diversity of Blackness and the expressions of Blackness, why are we still tryin to shuck and jive and present a happy face?

There are times when I see this in Black folks zines and can’t help but think that they are presented for the White gaze. And it makes me sad.

My fondest wish for us is that we can stop doing that.

I want us to feel safe in creating work that is not made to make White folks feel good.

I want hoodrat graffiti artists and fine artists and animators and rappers and violinists and country singers and battle rappers and love poets and resistance writers and Queers and disabled Black folks and trans Black folks and ALL of us to know that there’s space for us. All of us.

We can tell hood stories that don’t revolve around White saviors, sports scholarships, morality tales or redemption stories.

We can do these things and we all need to be about that life.

I’m not saying all Black folks things must include ALL Black folks experiences because that would be impossible. I’m saying, it’s possible to be open to things that don’t fit neatly into a racial uplift narrative.

We can read things that don’t fit that narrative.

I fully believe that in expanding our world and acceptance of the world intraracially, even problematic shit we can be better able to face the rest of the world that often hates us.

As we get closer to The Most Racist Time Of The Year (sung to the tune of The most wonderful time of the year Christmas song) let me remind White folks that not everything is yours. You can do your own research if you want to know more about what I’m laying down here. And your opinion on intraracial matters is never needed.

Be That Shit.

First behold my fave meme.

dreams

First panel says: Follow your mothafuckin’ dream.

Second panel says: I don’t give a damn if you wanna be a professional Ninja Turtle.

Last panel says: Be That Shit.

I am all about that Be That Shit Life.

So here’s what’s going on in my pursuit of the above.

First thing, I did a great interview for Litcrawl Seattle. Get it here at Tumblr and please feel free to pass it along. My event is this one:

VIDA Presents: Women of Color Prose Reading
Fred Wildlife Refuge, 128 Belmont Ave. E.
With Shannon Barber (Self Care Like a Boss), Jennine Capo Crucet (Make Your Home Among Strangers, How to Leave Hialeah), and Wendy C. Ortiz (Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook).

Um holy shit right? HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.

I am terribly nervous but I got my outfit sorted and what I’m reading and will just…do that shit. If you are there please know I will probably want to hug you but I will be really sweaty.

Next thing, I am launching my own TinyLetter newsletter. Find that here. Look forward to general writing life stuff, appearances, announcements, maybe the odd wee essay. It’s free and I won’t spam you at all. I am very nervous about doing this and it took a lot of me goading myself into it.

It looks like we have a very few 50% off copies of Self Care Like A Boss. Last I heard there were only six left. So if you want it now, grab it. Look out for the next iteration around New Years.

What else is happening?

I am relearning to make zines and will have some to sell over in my etsy shop by Christmas.

Also to celebrate October I’m gettin Spoopy over there and am re-releasing some spooky fiction and for Halloween (also my anniversary with my partner, Old Goths are Old) some brand new Lovecrafty type stuff. Check out what’s available here.

I almost forgot.

I had a reading a couple of weeks ago and I put up one of the pieces I read on Ink Node. I also have a tiny lil video of me reading from Self Care Like a Boss. After I get some sound tests done, I will be posting more videos of me reading and blogging about stuff. It’s gonna be a thing.

What else?

AH yes in the more angsty region of the Be That Shit Life, I decided I’m going to go ahead and try doing a fundraiser to help get me to AWP. I made a huge long list of pros and cons, discussed it with my partner and yeah, it is important to me to go. I’ll do a whole big post about it later after I get things set up.

Later this week more in my Yeah, Write grand experiment. Should I explain about that some this week?

I dunno.

So yeah, go read the things! Check out the Etsy and you my friend, Be That Shit. Whatever you wanna be.

 

 

Stuff I like

So hey my homies.

I’m coming down from an epic migraine and I wanna show y’all some stuff I like. Tomorrow I’ll post some craft nerd stuff about my Billy Remixes and ways to use a small prompt to explore some things.

The first thing I’m super into. The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo. They are just..fuck they are everything I love about solidarity and some bad assness. Check out their website, follow them on tweeter and decolonize your mind.

Next up, my friend Anna March is doing some awesome mixtape things at The Rumpus. The first one “FOR WHITE FOLKS WHO THINK THEY AREN’T RACIST” is pretty damn good.

And Daniel José Older on Prose and Music at Electric Lit is well just go read it.

While we’re checking out men of color I like a lot, Mensah DeMary has this piece on Catapult and I love it. Read it.

If you can afford it and can get there, Lidia Yuknovitch is doing some workshops that I’ve heard good things about. Go check it out.

One of my favorite online used bookstores is having a great coupon. Go to Thriftbooks and enter LITFIC for This coupon is good for 15% off books in our Literature & Fiction category (except Thrift Deals.) This is an awesome deal. They have great prices AND free US shipping over 10$.

Look what I got from them just last week:

books

Wanna read some fiction? Head over here and check out Laura Lucas. No for real if you want to check out how Yeah, Write Microfiction is done, go to the blog tab and behold. Awesome.

Who else am I super into? Dark Matter Poetry. I just..y’all I can’t. I have the worst of literary crushes on them and can’t stop. Go check them out and love them like I do.

Want to see more Yeah, Write? Check out my friend Rowan. GO tell Rowan I sent you.

While I’m talking about folks I love terribly. Motherblazing has a brand spankin new and shiny website. My publisher made something really good looking, so go here and check it out. AND while you’re there sign up for our mailings lists. We won’t spam you but will send some love letters and stuff.

Next, go read this by my friend Wagatwe Wanjuki over at Upworthy. No for real real go forth and read it.

Read this article on gender. Yes, please read it.

Over at Buzzfeed a favorite artist of mine, Mykki Blanco talks about hip hop, coming out and all sorts of goodness.

This poem How To Make Love to a Trans Person  has not left my head lately. Enjoy it here.

Follow my homie Ki Russell over on the amazons. I know it seems weird, but liking author pages is totally a thing. So do it.

Wanna read some kickass writing about women in butchery? Content warning for cut up pigs. This is a great piece by my friend Sarah Grey .

Just read this poem by Dana Koster. Just..ugh yes.

More Yeah, Write homies and some generally good writing follow Seraphina Maria.

AND go follow my homie Sara Habein. Say hi Shannon sent you.

Um nerds…fantasy LOTR type nerds. Hold on to your drawers and check this cookbook out by my friend Chris-Rachael Oseland. An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. UM FUCK TO THE YES. No I’m serious holy shit that’s fucking awesome. Elvenses anyone? Second breakfast? FOOL OF A TOOK…ahem. Sorry. Nerded kinda hard.

A few more. It’s been too long since I’ve shared my reading with y’all that wasn’t books or a book review.

Read this piece on MFA’s and POC over at The Offing. It’s just it’s important. Read it.

Tomorrow starting at 7 PM MDT to celebrate the first issue of WITCH CRAFT MAG they are doing this awesome internet reading event thing. I’m stoked AND you can see my fave Milcah read too. Check it out on facebooks.

GO read and/or listen to this story on Lightspeed it’s fucking amazing. Also it is hosted this time by Mur Lafferty whom I find delightful.

Now how about a lil self promo?

Free stuff first okay?

Join my email list. It is Self Care Like A Boss related and full of love. My love for y’all.  I promise zero spams.

If you are in Seattle come see me read on Saturday. Imma be spitting some fire. Because I am pissed off and poetry is my current method of not punching people. Gallery 1412 18th Ave, Seattle, WA at 7 PM Oct 3.

AND you can head over to the side bar and buy SCLAB, or you can check out the few things I have up at Etsy right now. Or if you are a commitment type, come check me out on Patreon.

Now there is a good number of you and I invite you if you have stuff to promote, drop links in the comments. SHARE WITH THE CLASS.

Tomorrow, something new for Yeah, Write since I’m done with Billy remixes….for now.

Now go forth and read some awesome stuff.

Against Diversity.

Given the further ramping up of racism in the lit world, I have to confess something.

In recent weeks I’ve watched digital yellowface, more White lady authors defending each other from us savage Brown, Black, Queer, Disabled and countless others, I have seen White people do intellectual 10.0 tumbling routines in order to make sure everyone knows that it’s never their fault, they aren’t racists, they are just trying to get what we others have.

I have witnessed male poets sexually harass, objectify and gaslight women.

I haven’t commented on every single thing because I was busy putting out a book.

Here is something I’ve come to understand.

When they say they aren’t against, diversity they just are against censorship and racial nepotism they want us others around but quiet.

Yes, it’s reassuring to know that we Wise Old Negresses exists, but naturally only a precious few of us should be visible or audible at any one time.

If more than one of us speaks at one time, it’s just PCness taking over and tantamount to murderous terrorism and censorship on the level of book burnings and religious extremism.

Right.

I see exactly what’s happening.

Solidarity amongst us others is threatening to Whiteness because we have our own voices, and will not only have our own spaces but will be heard in those spaces as well.

I see the patterns in this behavior.

The fear based posturing. The apparently righteous cause of freedom of speech. The White Flight. The victim pose, oh poor picked on White people being held accountable for their words and actions. All of it.

And it is exhausting.

I endure the micro aggressions. I quietly unfollow, unfriend, put literary magazines on my verboten list. I note who I will and won’t EVER work with at my own peril.

And yet, YET I am still right here.

I wrote an amazing book that is vital and important and yes, it is fucking expensive. 

I’ve stood up for my work because god damn it, this is years of my life, deep life changing work for both my publisher and I. And yes, it is that valuable.

I do this work in the face of the wall of White tears, White outrage, Silencing, Othering, and cowpie dodging that is the publishing industry.

I do this work because it is what I am meant to do.

I don’t do it in order to lead White folks and publishers by the hand into the land of milk, honey & diversity.

I do it because I have things to say. Because my voice, the voice that I have struggled to find and learn how to wield like a machete and like a lover’s hand is important.

So yes, YES, by all means keep tumbling and cartwheeling to justify why I should remain silent.

I will not name you all.

But I see you.

I see you.