So yeah. I’m writing a book (and officially launching this site in February 2014 but I digress). The name of the book is Seven. It’s my baby. The genre is fiction. Novel idea for a writer to write a book, right?
After my 9 – 5 it squeezes all of the energy out of the right side of my brain, borrows some from the left, uses and abuses my fingers tips, strains my eyes, nips at my soul. Yeah I’m dramatic. But so is this book. Thought I’d share the preface with you. Don’t ask for anymore, until I’m done, maybe. Excuse any typos. This sh*t isn’t copy edited.
All she wanted was fame.
Did it kill her? Yes. Seven shots, two to the cranium, two to the hands, two to the feet, and one to the heart.
Did she die? No.
Life is sweeter when you write about it, and when you actually live to see old age, instead of writing through ghostly telepath like myself, but I digress.
Somehow, all of its triumphs and tragedies are translated into poetic prose and aphorisms. I discovered writings’ power from a young age. My short stories were able to illicit the greatest, mountain rolling laughter from my perpetually grumpy father, and the softest, fondest tears from my mother. I turned my pen into one big pathetic fallacy, letting it speak to me every time its’ tip touched the page.
Writing was a different world for me. I could immerse myself in characters and times foreign. Create worlds, escape this reality of being a black girl who was assigned a personality the minute people took in my skin complexion. I could flex my power within these pages. Show my real personality. What’s the expression? A judgement free zone existed within the pages of my journals.
I’d always had so much to write about. My folks were very religious. Not in a fanatical way, but in a, ‘I definitely went to church three days out of the week’ way. Besides their 9 – 5, they were missionaries. Being an only child I traveled with them through the tundras of Africa, the jungles of South America and the hot, semi-arid Outback of Australia to deliver the word of God, and SPAM to those who our church thought were in need of some religious rectifying. On one of these crusades that pre-dated my existence, I was conceived. And on another one of them I was born during the blustery, chilled-out month of March. That’s why my name is Seven. In the Bible, the number 7 means complete. I was the last piece of their perfect triumvirate.
Crayons became pencils, pencils became pens and pens became a mini MacBook, all sacred instruments I used to document these journeys. I made the lions talk, the Aboriginals rap, and the potato farmers of the Andes make moonshine. Yeah, my mind was pretty wild.
So you see, it was just a natural progression for me to turn this love into a career. When my parents decided to chill-out on the religious world travel, I was sent to an all-girls boarding school. Despite having adolescent wanderlust, my focus was singular. I’ve always been taught to be strong in my convictions, ambitious in my work, and hard with my love. I edited every yearbook, magazine and literary work available to me. When I graduated, as the commencement speaker my speech was lofty and inspiring, my voice honey, floating weightless through winds that carried it to the ears of my classmate’s loved ones.
Easily transitioning to college, I attended a university very much in the vain of my boarding school. All girls, uptight, extremely focused on academia and prestigious, But one thing was missing, of course, as it had been my entire life- and thats ethnic diversity.
You see, if I’m being honest with you (which I always will) going to private, same-sex institutions does definitely afford you the best education- but perhaps not the best education about what it means to be a black girl in a white, male dominated society. You are taught to ignore your color, which we ought, embrace and feel empowered by our gender, which we ought, and forge ahead as leaders of our society, which we will, at least some of us. While we had the proverbial Black History Month, diversity clubs and conferences we still only touched the surface because most of our educators were white themselves. So how could they answer when we wanted to know;
“What do we do when we’re overlooked for a job because the MAN automatically thinks we’re going to be an angry black woman?”
“Who can we tell when we’re sexually harassed because black women are mistakenly seen as the whores of the world?”
“What should I think when I’m told my beauty isn’t the right beauty because I have thick lips, thick thighs and slanted eyes?”
But most importantly,
“What do I do when they ask for my soul?”
They wouldn’t understand, who can blame them. Would you want to immerse yourself in the dreary reality of a Black woman’s stereotype for empathy’s sake? Most would say “nah.”
So instead of knowing the answers to these questions that could guide me through my career’s journey, I existed as if I possessed the pallid skin of my peers; and moved through my adolescence and early adulthood as if the world wore my blinders as well.
Often misunderstood, my tendency towards thoughtful introspection and an almost instinctual need to assess people before I engaged in more than pleasantries with them gave me the running reputation that I was dark, moody, cold. I guess being strongly opinionated a.k.a I have a big mouth, with a tendency towards truth didn’t help (neither did a staple black motorcycle jacket, long black Elvira hair and pointy black nails but I digress).
I had a group of friends as diverse as the United Nations. My ladies were my family, cheerleaders, confidantes, and hell, some of them act like they’re my boyfriend if the situation calls for it. They get me. We all went to school together. Joked about our racial differences, understood each other in a way that only could come from our one commonality – we were women trying to make it in a man’s world. Change that shit up, make it our own. We were indeed rare.
I knew the outside would be different. I knew it would probably be the negaverse of my cosseted little lifestyle, with the diversity clubs and understanding. But the world absolutely shocked the shit out of me.
In college I took the proverbial internships at the top fashion magazines like S.O.S (State of Style), Peacock and Season. At S.O.S I learned how to perfectly straighten out of my black hair all the signs of my kinky ethnicity, because it was required and necessary; further causing co-workers to wonder at my ethnic ambiguity and question my olive skin’s origin.
At Peacock I learned to pair down my accessories to a simple but traffic stopping statement piece with a classy and timeless Cartier watch to match (a.k.a further homogenize myself, they weren’t going for the black nails).
At Season I learned that I am a black girl, and black girls should stay in their place, and that is at the top of the glass ceiling, but still under it; no breaking allowed of course. I hope you’ve noted my sarcasm here.
And this is when I’d had enough. Who were they to tell me who I could be because I was black? Implicit, or outright, the message was there.’ There’s only one Oprah, we let her have it, you’re not her, don’t try to be.’ I would not stand for the these civil injustices that were forced upon me by my co-workers. I refused to be categorized because I am “black” and that means I should never, ever, ever question my place in life’s station. I would not listen as my editor told me that ambition isn’t for interns like YOU. Because YOU don’t fit into Season’s ideal woman.
This is when I decided that I would stir shit up. I would forage into the entertainment industry. This is when I decided that I would work among my peers to empower women and men like me who shared my ethnicity, and only work under women that shared my lips, men that shared my eyes and people that shared my skin. This is the exact moment And THIS was why I died.
I know you’ve had to notice that this is all in past-tense by now. Wish the story had turned out different; but in this world you don’t always get what you wish for… You get what you’re destined to have. For me, it was death.