Originally, I named this blog “The Bluest i” because I thought I’d write at length about my decade-long battle with depression.
I thought I’d explore the ways that American life breeds depression in black women; all the ways that black women hurt as a result of living in the kyriarchy; and how they may heal.
And I might still talk about these things–because they encompass the reality of my life–because the best writers draw from what they know and learn from the process of writing.
But today it feels like the title applies more to how painful it is to look out over the social-political landscape of America and see so much evidence of how corrupt, callous, and–for lack of a better word–crazy this country–and many of its people–have become.
Obviously, I am blue because what I see saddens me so deeply.
I also feel like the title is an expression of my black feminist orientation.
It’s a play on Morrison’s famous debut novel, obviously. That masterpiece of American fiction.
And though Morrison doesn’t identify her work as feminist, the way in which she critiques the patriarchy–black and white–in her novels aligns with feminist politics.
She even says the project of The Bluest Eye is to show how internalized racism affects the most vulnerable member of the black community–a young girl.
In that, she acknowledges that black women and girls are lowest on the cultural totem; she reverses the notion that because they are the lowest on the totem, they are the least important members of the community; and she suggests that instead they are extremely important because they vividly illustrate the power, pervasiveness, and poisonous nature of patriarchal thinking as it relates to race and gender.
So I also chose “The Bluest i” as the title of my blog because of the work that Morrison does in the novel, illustrating what happens to a black girl’s insides when she looks out on a world that doesn’t seem to want, love, or have need of her.
I chose the title because I can relate to Pecola’s struggle to like herself when no one else seems to like her.
That is also the main reason I am a black feminist, in case that isn’t already apparent.
(I try to always make sure to keep the adjective attached because black feminism is one thing, and “feminism”–that exclusionary descendant of women’s suffrage–is another.)
I am a black feminist because it is important to fight not just white patriarchy’s efforts to obliterate black women but also black patriarchy’s efforts to obliterate black women. It’s important to fight mainstream feminism’s efforts to ignore and undermine black women.
I am not a feminist because I hate men but rather because I love women. I love being a woman. So I will not allow the powers-that-be to ruin that experience for me by making it an existential prison.
I know that some people believe that black feminism is ruinous to the black community, but I say no.
Unchecked patriarchy, internalized sexism, misogyny, misandry, homophobia, and transphobia are.
Feminism is fighting–every time it’s necessary–against anyone’s efforts to silence you because you’re a woman, cheat you because you’re a woman, hurt you because you’re a woman, discredit you because you’re a woman, mistreat you because you’re a woman, or overrule you because you’re a woman.
It’s nothing more, and it’s nothing less.
If the black community needs women to be doormats, dolls, or dupes in order to embrace women, then it’s the hateful ethic at its heart that’s the problem–not black feminism.
As James Baldwin–the famous male writer says, “Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
So when you love someone, you grapple with how difficult it is to watch her grow and evolve–how challenging it is to tolerate her differences and respect her individuality.
You don’t suppress, oppress, or depress someone that you love.
Yes. Circularity. I started out talking about depression, and I’m back to it again. Again and again.
This blog is about my illness, yes. It’s about my purview. It’s about my politics. It’s about my opinions.
It’s also about my deepest and longest-held desire: To say something true and meaningful about being black, being a female, being an artist, and being an American all at the same time.
I hope that people will read this blog and feel something.
I hope that people will read this blog and understand something.
I hope that people will read this blog and perhaps learn something.
Or even just let it open them up a little bit. Make them a bit more loving or gentler toward the black women in their lives.
Then, maybe “i”–maybe we–won’t feel so blue, navigating this landscape that can be so needlessly, so endlessly hostile.
Maybe this blog will allow people to recognize what Morrison says: “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”