There has been a slow and steady movement happening. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Felt small bursts of joy from it. Possibly like me, kept hoping that this change in tide was a foreshadowing of things to come.
I’m talking about the recent celebration of black women excellence. Whether behind the camera, in front of it, on the cover of magazines, at the helm of major movements and/or winning prestigious sports titles. We were gone for a minute but we’re back with the jump off (shout out to Lil Kim).
I’ve written about the absence of our faces on TV and movies and the culture vultures who co-opted elements of black culture in the mainstream media. But you’ve also seen the rise of sisters in the arts and sports recently along with the unashamed celebration of it. The wait had been too long.
Essence magazine’s February 2016 issue is coming out with 3 covers featuring activist Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, TV’s Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi and the film Chi-Raq actress Teyonah Parris. I recently read a great article on xoNECOLE about the writer who wrote that Essence cover story. And as much as seeing those three sisters on the cover was amazing, it’s the story on the woman who wrote it that spoke to me more.
Bené Viera is a journalist who was about to give up writing right before she got this gig. It’s always darkest right before the sun, right? She was tired of the industry but when this opportunity came, although not presented in full form as what it entailed, she took a chance. And like that, what looked like a possibility turned out to be grander than what she imagined.
As you all have probably seen, I haven’t written here in a while. The struggle to open up my laptop and pour my words onto a screen has been real lately. Folks have asked what is up, what am I working on, etc. And the truth is I don’t know exactly why. Some days I’d rather read, watch a movie, clean my house, meet up with friends. Anything but write. There’s vulnerability in writing. And I guess, I needed to be in the right head space to be there. But when I read these words from Bené I felt compelled to get back to it. Get back in front of that blank screen and unleash what’s inside.
When I was assigned this story I was done with this industry. Done. Looking for jobs in non-profit and looking for jobs in L.A. I was tired of the layoffs. Tired of covering salacious gossip. Tired of the uncertainty. Tired of the funny way in which people move. Tired of writers who think they’re pseudo celebrities. But something told me I could not pass up this opportunity. Including this story, I’ve only written three things this summer. I tell people I’m on Sabbatical. But when the Universe has other plans, the Universe has other plans. ESSENCE was always the dream job. Writing cover stories was always the ultimate goal. Although the “job” part didn’t manifest in the way I envisioned, it did come to fruition…
I say all that to say, keep dream chasing. I mentor a few young writers and I wonder, “Girl, why are you into me? I barely have it figured out.” So I write this for them. They need to know it’s not all glitz and glam. They need to know you will want to quit. They need to know we all experience self-doubt. They need to know there will be some dark days. But they must keep doing the work. People can say whatever the hell they want to say about me, but nobody, not a single soul can say I don’t do the work. No one can say I’m not committed to my craft. I moved to NYC in 2010 without a plan. I lived with my ex in his father’s home. I had no money. No job. Just some degrees and the crazy idea that I wanted to be a writer. Well, mama, I’m a writer. I hope I made you proud…”
This was the push I needed. Whether at my day job, home life or extra curricular I know I put in the work. So although RealDelina.com is still new, I want to see it flourish so I’m going to keep on doing the work!
No matter what we decide to take on, I hope it’s with both our feet in and our heart open wide. Whatever path you take in 2016, be prepared to sweat and enjoy the rewards!