Blog Post FOUR: December 21st, 2017
If there are any young black girls out there reading this blog, please don't be discouraged. If you're thinking that you aren't trusted, or heard, or that you don't have freedom to talk about reality, do not fall into despair. Years ago when I started writing Columbus Myth I was in total disbelief when all the truth I had to once conceal became public knowledge due to our conversation on race in America during terms of our first non-White president. I never thought I'd be able to just speak freely about reality. It felt so weird not having to use "Publizenego." For example, wearing my natural hair and talking about my perspective publicly. You may be feeling like you have to use Publizenego now, but have hope. Being able to speak freely about reality IS possible. We both lived to see that possibility come true! So imagine what comes next for you. If you're having to use Publizenego now, make a game out of it. And most importantly, know you're not alone.
I had a wonderful teacher who (was both my 1st and 3rd grade teacher and) encouraged me to write. She recognized the attention I gave to arts, crafts, and storytelling, and told me that I had a special knack for writing. I took that to heart. I kept notebooks on hand like Harriet the Spy after that, and was proud of what I wrote, but content to keep my stories to myself. Maybe writing is something you will enjoy! Think of your story in four parts; Orphan, Wanderer, Warrior, Martyr. Begin your story with your character somehow orphaned. In other words, something your character once knew is taken away or your character ends up in a totally foreign place. Think of your character as a fish out of water. Then, your character is a wanderer, looking around for some purpose, direction, or meaning. She makes mistakes that lead to further obstacles and new adventures. Once your character learns how to navigate through her world, she will seize the sword and become a warrior fighting back against those obstacles along her journey. And, at the end your character somehow gives up what they thought they wanted sacrificing a part of themselves in order to receive something they originally didn't know they needed.
"Hidden Complexity" is Mona's story. This entire Columbus Myth series is meant for those in between the typical stories of Black and White. Like, immigrants, brown people, people of color, white people who were raised in Black and Brown communities, or whatever the case may be. Mona's story is my tool for addressing the complexity of social identity in our world. I use much of my own experience to tell her story.
And for those who are my age, do you remember your first time online, or your first social media account? Remember dialup and those chatroom days, or oversharing on Livejournal, and all the dazzling html you crammed onto your Myspace page? I think I had so many videos posted on my Myspace page at some point that anytime you visited my page would crash. Then I learned I should code videos NOT to start automatically if I had more than one video per page. Learning curve. lol
Well, my Myspace days had special meaning to me because it reconnected me to friendships that my Y2K separated me from through distance. Yeah -- Y2K was actually the year I moved from my home town of Lake Jackson, Texas to Wilmington, Delaware. My Y2K. It was kind of the end of the world as I knew it -- but I didn't realize then because of how thrilled I was to get out and see the world, and start over at 12 years old going on 13 with a new... identity! Year 1: exactly what I wanted -- an adventure! Year 2: reality set in.
Moving from Texas to Delaware in 7th grade gave me a mini existential crisis from the culture shock. I learned, then, how words, even when both the same word and both the same language, with the same definition in the same country, can represent very different ideas. So even when you think you're speaking the same language, your brain actually isn't...
I learned that reality is subjective. Even my body as a social symbol changed meaning between one place and the other. My body as a symbol meant something different in one place than it did in the other. And, if I meant something different, was I someone different? Well, no... I wasn't someone different if I was by myself. But whenever I was with other people, yes. Kind of. Yes. I was someone different. Like H20 in freezing temperatures as opposed to boiling heat. The environment I was in changed my configuration. Like quantum physics says that matter does not exist until observed or measured, those around me who observed or measured me created the matter I became. So then I was left to ask, "who am I really; ice or steam?"
Let's call "ice" the East Coast. You know, 'cuz it's cold there. And, Texas can be "steam" 'cuz... yeah. So, East Coast has lots more Black people than where I grew up in Texas. And I'm Black. So, my Blackness is going to have different meanings between steam and ice. Or should I say steam creators and ice creators...??? Well, different meanings for others, and different meanings for me. For example, I happen to be more literal with the word "minority" because of where I grew up in Texas and my "group" being Black. Both places (South and East) consider Black people to me minorities. But for obvious reasons you can see how that minority experience will not have the same meaning when you take a look at the demographics. Lake Jackson, TX was like, 5% Black, and Wilmington, DE was 58% Black. "Minority" took on a different meaning in Wilmington, DE. It meant... "anyone who isn't White" in Delaware. Wilmington, DE is 32.6% White. Lake Jackson, TX is 84.36% White. You can see how I understood "minority" literally growing up in Lake Jackson, right? And, you can see how I, then, had to come to understand a different meaning of it after I moved.
Webster defines minority as...
1a : the period before attainment of majority (see majority 2)
b : the state of being a legal minor
2: the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole; specifically : a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control The proposition was opposed by a minority of voters.
3a : a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment the country's ethnic minorities
b : a member of a minority group an effort to hire more minorities
Take a look at 3b. A member of a "minority group." A "minority group" is a group of people with a percentage of total U.S. population in the minority. Black people are 12.6% of the total U.S. population. White people, by contrast, are 72.4% of the U.S. population. That would make my group (Black) a minority group. In Lake Jackson, that all made sense. In a place like Wilmington where White people are a literal minority of 32.6% but are not in a "minority group," and Black people are the majority with 58% but are part of a "minority group," identities and race relationships are much more complicated and complex. As ice, I was seen as a member of the majority who was part of a national minority group. But I grew up as steam being a literal minority. So, who was I?
This got even more complicated. Since I grew up with the national majority, I was seen as being "too white" or "not black enough." What's more, having shared a cultural upbringing with the national majority group made me more relatable to White people everywhere. I was more relatable to White people then others in my minority group who shared an upbringing with their group. Queue the guilt, because here comes all the complications of diversity programs and efforts to include minorities. Who do you think is going to get picked for some local diversity initiative if you have two Black people and one of them just seems to get you more than the other. And, no I wasn't referring to your guilt when I said "queue the guilt," I was talking about mine. When I was in middle school and high school the competition was so thick for that one diversity spot. Picture it. Even though White people were the minority, they still managed to make themselves the majority in powerful positions, work situations, school, etc., so diversity initiatives were still needed. Like I said before, moving to Wilmington from Lake Jackson was like jumping into a history book from the 1960s. Segregation was so bad, and it was like no one noticed. But yes, that spot set aside for "diversity" was pretty coveted. And, I'm talking about the figurative spot set aside, the unspoken spot set aside, and organization spot set aside, and more. All of them. Black people know this. There's this thing that happens when there are "too many of us" around. It makes people think that whatever you're a part of is a "Black thing." Aziz Ansari depicts this well in his first season of Master of None where he and other Indian actors are auditioning for roles... he ends up competing with one of his Indian actor friends for a role and someone suggests the idea that they might both be in the project... and Aziz is like, "there's only room for one brown person per show or else white people will feel alienated." Watch the episode. I highly recommend it. It's called, "Indians on TV." Anyway, I felt like in a place like Wilmington where White people were the minority, they already felt alienated, and were therefore more protective of their space. So its no wonder that in all the places I've lived I felt the most racism from Wilmington. But back to my guilt. Because this minority majority group felt protective while still being forced to "diversify" in order to fairly disperse power, they tended to lean more towards the minorities to whom they could more strongly relate. Minorities like me who were raised in majority white environments. I'm not saying that this was wrong, or is wrong... I'm saying diversity is complicated. All those people who want that "spot"... that one brown spot set aside for them in friendship circles, clubs, pictures, art projects, board meetings, diversity initiatives, whatever, whatever, whatever.... that TOKEN spot only had one opening, and this causes competition within the minority group. So now you see where "too white" or "not black enough" comes from. So complicated. I put my emotions about this tokenism thing into my character, Dido. Dido was raised in The Private District alongside cyborgs. Her parents are cyborg too, but Dido is purely human. She was never rejected from The Public District like her cyborg peers. You see, people who did not fit what The Public considered to be ideal were orphaned and given to The Private District with directions for fixing the problem. They were then given a mechanical addition to their body to fix this problem, making them cyborg, and prepared for a lifetime of work in entertainment. Their job as cyborgs is to entertaining the very people who rejected them in the first place. Dido was chosen by Columbus to take on the new star role because she's human, and therefore more relatable to the human Public District. As a relatable star, she'll bring in more Trust (currency) for the show. Listen to "Trust Me, Love" below.
Diversity isn't what you think it is. There is diversity within the groups you pick from. I stressed over not being the right kind of black for diversity programs. So don't give me that "you took my white spot" bullshit. Excuse me. My impatience for that argument comes from my contempt for lies that lead good people to come to that conclusion on their own. I'll get to lies later. See, the trick to manipulating a population of people is to trick them into thinking that they came up with their judgment on their own. That way they have a false sense of ownership about their idea and they'll defend it thinking they're defending themselves. Ego. But that comes later. Anyway, I also struggled with always being the "diversity" pick because I was the only one, or the one most closely relatable to those who picked their "diversity" rep. That's where Dido's character comes from. Her character represents my feelings about being the representative for a community I didn't come from. Sometimes I felt that I was taking a spot from a Black person who needed that spot more than I did. I felt guilty for that, and angry at a system that got praise for having "diversity" initiatives when they really didn't pick someone from a diverse background, they just picked someone within their own community who was a different color.
But don't get me wrong. We NEED diversity. Do you need a unique perspective to get a job? No! Of course not. You need to know how to follow directions to get a job. Or, at least that's how it used to be. Now, things are changing. And when the world changes and starts spinning so fast that we can't see where we're going, it helps to have direction from a point of view outside of the twirling fog. Yes. You guest it! That's where diversity comes in handy. But, we need to know what diversity is first. Like I said, and I'll say it again, diversity isn't what you think. Diversity is bringing YOUR perspective to solve a problem. What, are you a white person from a very white suburb of Whitelandia USA? Well, traveling, getting to know people who aren't from where you're from, listening to them, seeing through their perspective, and walking along side them for awhile can give you a unique perspective. Yes YOU! Follow a road less traveled and YOU will have experiences that give you a perspective that's different from your neighbor.
You can't describe the real you to a society of people. They see you the way they see you, and if you see yourself differently then they'll make sure you understand that YOU'RE the one who is confused. So you end up keeping that part of you silent so it doesn't confuse your message. Some people might get caught up on semantics because you used a word that means something different to them in their brain because of their upbringing or experiences. I'll cover more of that topic in the "Civil War Explanatory" which explains Goose's character in Episode 9 of Columbus Myth. But that part of you that you keep silent because you may be misunderstood if you try to explain, will always color your perspective and your actions. That part of you is your hidden complexity. Moreover, hidden complexity IS diversity.
If I think of what it was like living in lake jackson, I honestly think "normal." To adequately describe it to you I'd have to think of your perspective or someplace different and compare where I grew up with that place. So where should I go mentally to compare? New York? Should I compare Lake Jackson to New York? I mean... New York City is where all your TV shows and movies are set, right? Those little cultural story boxes make it around every government line in America and reach overseas to livingrooms worldwide. TV and movies, man. Those are our common stories. Our common mythologies. Not everyone knows Lake Jackson, TX or Wilmington, DE, but you've seen so much of it in pictures that even if you've never been, you know New York.
Right before I started writing this project, I interned for a reality TV production company in New York. It was 2008. My senior year at Drexel University. The recession hadn't hit yet. Twitter wasn't really a thing yet. I didn't have a smart phone. Facebook hadn't yet sold it's soul to all those companies who have all your data now. SOAP operas were still going pretty strong. The writer's strike had just ended and The Kardashians was only one season in. And this senator named Barack Obama had some pretty inspiring ideas about governing the country.
I heard him say once in particular that he was going to work on diversity programs so they included people in the minority group who were NOT like him and me, but were more like those for which the programs were actually designed. This man got it. He got it in a way that I hadn't seen anyone in the run for president get it before. I thought to myself, now here's a Black person who KNOWS what life is like for non-white Americans. He KNOWS the complexity that I live with and he was doing exactly what I promised myself I would do once I benefited from all this Token Trust (being the Token Black in privileged White situations because I was the brown one who was raised in their culture). When he won, I felt like I could be accepted by my minority group now. When he was doing well and my minority group was supporting him, I knew that left room for them to accept me too! They could see that people like me weren't all "Toms."
There's a part of me that feels bad for using a slur like "Tom" to label Black people who act against the best interests of their minority group and for the best interests of the White national majority. Being called a Tom, or being thought of as being a Tom hurts. I saw a short film once where this Black man was being harassed on a train by a White racist who kept calling him a nigger. The Black man was annoyed, but handled it like a champ. Just ignored the abuse. But then he was called a Tom and he lost it, reacting more emotionally when called a Tom than when called a nigger. When you're called a nigger, at least you're part of the minority group who's also living with that pain. That's why people who are in that minority group use "nigga" as a term of endearment. The term, "nigga" is recognition that you're part of the group, you know the struggle, you share the same pain, you come from the same place. "Tom" means the opposite. You aren't one of us. You aren't one of us, but you look like one of us. We don't accept you. You're untrustworthy. So there's a part of me that feels bad for using the slur, "Tom," but when you have conversations with Black people who you're convinced might have a Klan membership after your conversation, you can use the term with some strong confidence in knowing exactly who you're talking about. I don't feel bad about calling a racist a racist if they themselves are proud to be one. The Toms I'm talking about are proud to be racist against their minority group.
Moreover, you can wrongfully be seen as a Tom when you simply are Black and hold beliefs that are more similar to White Americans. Or, you're Black and live in an area with a very high White population. Or, you "talk white," or listen to "white music," and the list goes on. People assume. Which is why it was such an inspiration to see Barack Obama give speeches and speak to the American people capturing the hopes and dreams of all people without pandering to the White majority and going out of his way to prove that he isn't a part of the Black minority group ("Toms" go out of their way to show they aren't "Niggas" and before Obama this is what people were used to seeing chosen Tokens do). This Token was different.
Anyway, NEW YORK. You know New York from all the movies. We've established that. It's our magical setting we can all go to mentally when we want to meet on common ground. Picture it. Yes... PICTURES, darling. YAAAZS... I'm working in New York before the recession, and interning for some dope companies. I'm writing reality TV treatments and coverage of submitted treatments at one place, and archiving some amazing Muppet material at another. Was 21 years old, out on my own in the Big Apple, making connections... oh! I got a meeting with an ABC Daytime SOAP producer, and I told him of how I'd taken a SOAP writing class the semester before. He was super encouraging, but he thought I was too young to write for them. Said they hired someone my age before and it didn't work out because she didn't have enough life experience to contribute to the show. I wanted so badly to share how being a Black female minority minority for your formative years, then moving to a place with a Black majority and a White minority majority made me so much more socially experienced and emotionally complex than the average 21 year old. But, this was before Barack Obama's presidency and our national collective conversation about the complexity of identity in this country and White privilege and so on, and I knew he wouldn't understand. That's how everything was when it came to talking about something the mainstream didn't see in their collective narrow gaze. You just didn't talk about it because you knew they wouldn't understand. I came up with the term "Publizenego" for the things you had to do to, I guess, cover up the truth so to not freak out your "Public Citizen." Publizenego grants you more Trust. Perm your hair straight (maybe even add a weave or wig), smile and nod when they say something about the people your image represents to them -- even though their perception is so completely off. Do the same for slang or music references that you don't use or don't know -- they think you know so if you react normally to something you don't understand they'll assume you were offended and then you have to deal with them labeling you as "too sensitive," so just pretend you know what they're talking about and then look it up later. You know, "Publizenego" stuff.
I had so much hidden complexity. My complexity was the force that pushed me to write. This was why I was here looking to start a writing career in the first place. But, there wasn't really a category for what I wrote. You see, in the industry you have categories and genres and such. Its for marketing purposes. You have to know your audience so you can sell directly to them. But who was my audience? This is where it got tricky with those diversity writing programs. Who was MY audience? I couldn't describe my writing as writing from a black perspective (even though I was) because people would think of the kind of Black characters they saw on TV, or read in literature class. All of that material, again, was out there because it had a clear audience. But who was MY audience?
The whole thing was just maddening. I have a unique voice, a unique perspective, and its unique because it comes from someone living a Black experience, and this Black experience is a perspective of OUR lives that ALL of us can benefit from. So, isn't my audience just... all of us? But how do you market that? At the same time that I was wrestling with all of this, the recession hit, entertainment companies were downsizing, and the job I thought I would have once I graduated school was no longer open due to these changes. Perfect. No... actually... it was perfect.
I decided to step out of the whole manufactured game of marketing and genre and just write. My senior project was due too, so I had to come up with something anyway if I wanted my Bachelor's of Science in Screenwriting and Playwriting. With my New York experience on my mind, and Obama gaining support, and everything I'd learned about reality TV, human nature, crazy New Yorkers, crazy people in general, and all of us who think we're sane because we've surrounded ourselves with nouns that stroke our ego, I started writing what is now Columbus Myth.
I started with Digits. He was a clown who manipulated information that people read online in order to control their actions in real life. I got this idea because while I was writing Twitter like... took off. Facebook also changed around this time, and sold data to companies. The digital landscape was changing. And remember, I knew all too well how different locations understood concepts differently depending on how they were raised. Remember Ice and Steam? Semantics (I'll get to that one in Civil War's Explanatory). The whole set up seemed to me like a disaster waiting to happen. I was scared. So I wrote a thriller with a villainous clown who represented my fears about what the internet was becoming.
Now, there were some good things about the internet that I was pleasantly surprised about. Like, that whole problem with needing to define my audience the way that it had been defined for decades. Solved! Look at Issa Rae. Producers told her an audience wouldn't want to see the upper middle class Black female stuff that she was making and she could prove them wrong by showing them how many YouTube views she was getting on her series Awkward Black Girl. Or, even the election of Barack Obama. They used a grassroots campaign that took advantage of communication, and getting around "The Public District's" old fashioned marketing. Our national conversation about race throughout Barack Obama's presidency was lead via the internet as well. People like me could finally publish work based in reality without having producers tell them their audience didn't exist. I had conversations that I NEVER thought I'd have because before that I just knew people wouldn't understand or they wouldn't care. I was able to learn what my hair looked like for the first time. At 22, I learned what my hair looked like without being chemically processed, and I learned (from youtubers) how to take care of it and style it, and from that I gained a new pride in myself and my image, AND felt like I was part of a community! I didn't have to use Publizenego nearly as much. I could just speak the truth, and physically be and live in my truth. And I was able to see that so many other people had the SAME views as me, and had experienced the same things as me! I could finally see it! MY COMMUNITY!!!! Instead of competition for that one spot, we were all given a voice ONLINE!!!
I created Mona's character next along with Paul and Castor, and named them after Castor and Pollux the Gemini twins of Greek Mythology. Mona was my protagonist who was dealing with drama from men. Paul represented men who were narcissistic but honest, and Castor represented men who were seemingly the nicest guy ever but manipulative and deceitful. Both abusive. I thought it would be interesting to see Mona torn between these two Malvolios who want to rid the world of human sin in each their own way, while Digits the clown was out moving communities of people around like his own puppet show.
Then came Dido and Justin. The teenage couple who would die first in this thriller before we're introduced to Mona's story. They were both rebels. I chose the name Dido because her character started the whole story -- I thought of her character as a representation of my upbringing -- and that whole "Dido" experience of being a part of the minority group, but because of circumstances that made her relatable to the group in power, not accepted by her group and, therefore, caught somewhere inbetween. Its a lonely experience so I imagined her to have Justin as a partner she valued as her only confidant. But anyway, back to her name. I named her Dido after the Goddess who founded Carthage in Greek Mythology.
Then my focus changed. In addition to writing a thriller, I thought I could write something else... because the ideas kept coming. Dido's parents Goose and Einstein came next. Goose represented earth and Einstein represented spirit, electricity, sky, and the cosmos. I think with everything happening and all the questions that arose about epistemology (the scientific study of how to know how you know) because of the internet, and the election of our first Black President, and seeing White people dumbfounded and finally asking questions that... you just thought would have been answered in 1st grade... but no. Seeing that smart people in high positions of power know NOTHING about people of color outside of stereotypes... all the ignorance coming out... Seeing them question who they were... just because the President was Black. Astonishing. So I started reading more about anthropology and noticed that though the science was intriguing, no one really studied "whiteness" in anthropology. What was the psychology of a person who believed themselves to be "White?" What did White mean to them? I had the time since we were in a recession, so I took it upon myself to explore this idea. Goose and Einstein represented the relationship between belief and truth. Belief became our origin myth as Americans; our American identity. After a lot of deep thought I concluded that this identity was what whiteness is. And I created Columbus the Ringmaster as a character to represent whiteness (White Supremacy). Once I had that, every other character needed a circus act as well.
I went back to Castor and Paul first. Named after Castor and Pollux, these two characters are one another's foil, but also entangled by power through their connection. When researching circus performers I came across a description that presented the Magician and Juggler with a similar relationship to Castor and Paul. The magician, moreover, was a role that required hiding slight of hand to delight an audience, while the juggler entertained his crowd by showing his skillful moves. Perfect! I made Castor the magician and Paul a juggler. Later, I decided Paul should be the detective chasing Castor and Columbus, and therefore needed to make him a Public Citizen. Spoiler alert. Eventually Paul does become cyborg and his juggler characteristics come out.
Since Goose represented religion and language I made her The Strong Woman, and her husband Einstein needed to be similar to her, but opposite because he represented truth, cosmos, energy, "all," the "god as all things" concept... and The Androgyn seemed to be the perfect fit for him.
Speaking of language, since I had a character who represented language, I also wanted a character that represented chaos. No order. No direction through narrative, words, and meaning. This made me think of Batman's Joker character. So I went back to the very first character I started with. A clown. Perfect, because there are clowns in circuses so it all works together. Digits the clown.
Mona was from the Public District because she's my "normal" character who journeys into the unordinary world. So she doesn't have an act, but I made her a teacher for CoShow Academy. She'd teach acrobats like Justin and Dido, who were now going to be fixtures in this story instead of the rebellious teenage couple who gets killed off in the first 10 minutes of my thriller. And, Justin and Dido were now a tightrope walking act, which gave me room to go into both of their backstories. Dido's backstory became "Trust Me, Love," and Justin's backstory became, "For Lynda." "For Lynda" was the first production I made the year I moved to Austin, TX in 2014. By 2014 I had been living with these characters and developing their backstories and the futuristic world in which they lived for about 5 years. I decided to call the story Columbus Myth, and start producing... something. Just jump into it. I'd been thinking about it for so long, and writing short stories that never saw an audience for half a decade. In college I started a radio drama show that aired old radio dramas along with modern audio drama and fiction podcasts. Sometimes I'd play Broadway show tunes. My show was called MADdrama on WKDU 91.7fm Philadelphia and it ran for about 3 years. So when I finally decided to do something with this Columbus Myth story I thought, why not produce an audio fiction series. I ended up making some friends in the process. My intention was to record the whole series in, like... at most a year. I wasn't aiming to make anything too special. I just wanted to create SOMETHING out of this Columbus Myth story I'd come up with because I just thought the characters were so much fun. It was fun to dream up. "For Lynda" was definitely a little rough because I did all my own editing, and did the foley work with a new friend, Jason Bostic. The acting was amazing! But, It was all original foley work. haha... Which was fun to do, but... well, episode one was an experiment. But after we completed production of episode 1; part 1, we had something to share when we talked about the project. Having something to share got us some help where we needed it. I was able to get some feedback on the script and hear what kind of writing would work better in audio form. Some things in "For Lynda" I would DEFINITELY go back and rewrite and re-edit so there aren't so many pauses and spaces between lines, but it serves it's purpose. I intended the audio drama project to be a sloppy first draft that just so happened to force the project into the world. And, I got some technical help sound mixing to make part 2 of "For Lynda" and everything after that better. Listen to my sloppy first draft (that I'm proud of), "For Lynda," below.
We jumped ahead a few years. Let's go back to 2009 when developing the initial idea for Columbus Myth. I thought of having some ghost of oppression who would kind of live within the Ringmaster's world. I wanted a character who could directly show the effect of living according to oppressive rules. I thought a lion tamer, or animal tamer would be perfect here. And thus Lynda the lion tamer was born. Her backstory became, "Scientifically Criminal." Watch a promo for Scientifically Criminal below.
So in all I had Mona, Dido, Castor, Paul, Justin, Lynda, Columbus, Goose, Einstein, and Digits. Each one representing some complexity within my own life.
So, why was I so passionate about writing this project? It simply gave me a clear canvas to start from. I could write stories from MY perspective instead of first using a paint-by-numbers printout layered overtop of one. That paint-by-numbers being... whiteness. Or, the white male gaze. Or, what other people thought "someone like me" would write... Or just, the way the majority group saw the world, because the way the majority group saw the world was "mainstream" and most profitable. Put simply, what most people, BUY into. Trust.
My project deconstructed my reality, and reconstructed it into something that was understandable... recognizable for a mainstream palate. I could write about my reality of growing up a literal minority then trying to live a life in a different environment as a majority minority where the minority there is a majority of the whole country and therefore holds more power making someone like me their Token Trusted pick out of my majority group who doesn't accept someone like me, because the system is using someone like me to keep my minority group out. And I can write about my guilt, and my efforts to make things right, and no one can disagree with me or say my perspective is invalid because, hey... these are all just wacky fictional tales with cyborg clowns and celebrity slaves who entertain their oppressors to earn Trust. I'd rather write something that everyone can relate to while still pulling from my own experience than detailing my own experience. I mean, the fun isn't in where I come from, the fun is in creating a story based off of where I come from. Its not the canvas its the painting we enjoy. But creating a new world for Columbus Myth provided me with a canvas so that I could write what I know.
lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies... what I despise the most. These are our obstacles. These are the things we so often find ourselves fighting against. Take the 2016 United States Presidential Election for example. Propaganda, online messaging, and Fox News to name a few spread lies in order to simplify complexity to create a "bad guy" out of ideas that were not simple for a suburban raised White person to understand.
A Message from the Right:
If you don't want to be controversial, be a white man. Be a heterosexual white man if you want to be a good conservative. If you can't be a white man, you're strange. Get used to it. Try your very hardest to be a white man, and we will forgive you for not being a white man. If you're a woman, don't scare the white men or the non-white men who we have forgiven, and we'll forgive you for being a woman. If you are a white man and you're uncomfortable that everyone who isn't a white man is considered abnormal and you make this discomfort known, you're a liberal. Get ready for people to make up lies about you. And that goes for anyone else who isn't a white man and has made the dishonorable decision NOT to try your very hardest to be a white man (or have chosen NOT to refrain from anything that would scare white men if you're a woman). You are all liberals. Get used to that label.
A Message for the Left, from Me:
Shaming doesn't work. Mainly because shaming comes from your own ego. We are all socialized to learn these racial codes as a language. For whatever reason you're privileged enough to know better. Think of this as a privilege, not an extra notch of intelligence -- maybe that'll help you in seeing the bigger picture. Its not about YOU knowing better than THEM. Its about you understanding the code so you can see how our society is manipulated. Be woke enough to understand the code and know how its used and your god-given intelligence (minus your ego) will guide you in communicating. In my project I call this Publizenego. The Private District must appeal to the ego of The Public District in order to earn Trust (currency).
How did I learn this? Haha. Experience + Black wisdom.
It is natural to fall prey to your own ego. You want people to know how smart you are, and how evolved you are, and how good you are, and by comparison to that other guy over there... hey look at how much better you are than them...
Recognize this in yourself because this is your achilles heel. Just as you are able to get by with Publizenego, so are those who oppose you. Privatezenego, I guess you'd say.
In Hidden Complexity, Mona falls for both the Juggler and the Magician and she can't figure out who is best for her. They both seem the same, like one is Superman and the other Bizzaro, or one Christ and the other the Anti-Christ, or anytime you see the trope in TV where the good guy and bad guy look exactly alike and both claim to be the real Slim Shady. The difference between Paul and Castor is that Paul tells Mona his absolute true thoughts never sparing her feelings, and Castor tells Mona exactly what she wants to hear. Spoiler alert: Mona ends up choosing Castor because she wants the aspirational pretty picture instead of Paul's truth that is only his perspective of the truth anyway. You'll have to follow Columbus Myth to find out how her decision pans out. Listen to "Hidden Complexity" below.
This blog has been a way for me to show my work, so to speak. So often people think that I don't have the experience necessary to come up with these complex stories. Depending on who you are and your perspective, I've been seen as being one of those who has had everything given to them either because you see my success and think a Black person couldn't have earned it, or you don't understand my hidden complexity so you assume I'm riding on my looks in another way. Just look at what happened after our first Black President, President Obama served his two terms. Years of lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lead to a complete fabrication and followers who voted for a New York reality television star to roll back his work like a bratty child knocking over a classmate's castle just because that classmate successfully built one. No matter how flawed a candidate, Donald Trump was New York, the city we see in TV and movies. He was U.S.A's mythology incarnate. Fake, but aspirational (to those who don't know the real thing.) Some people see my success and think I was handed everything from my parents like The Channel when they assumed Dido would be Trusted at Commerce because she is human. I come from an upper middle class background so some of the discrimination I face is different than stories usually told.
Look again at a public figure like President Barack Obama. He was a candidate who ran for president and he happened to be black. He was a good candidate. He was inspirational, respectful of the public's intelligence, a good family man with smart ideas about governing the nation. And he happened to be black. Once he was elected President I saw people argue that he was only elected because he played the race card, or because he was black -- and I saw people use these arguments interchangeably like they were one of the same. This bothers me because I sure as H-E-double-hocky-sticks know the difference between OTHER people making a big deal about me being black, and me personally saying something about it. Barack Obama did not play any kind of card. If he ever spoke about race during the election it was in response to what the public was saying about him, and what the public started talking about because he happened to be black. Look at all the drama that came out of a president who happened to be black... at times during my teen years and early twenties I remember feeling like a walking, breathing conversation piece because I'm black but was-raised-in-environments-where-I-was-the-only-black-person-around (in other words, a Token). The same patterns of lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, and conversation and praise on the other side happened. This is just a pattern that we all live, and with U.S.A's first Black President everyone got to see what happens to Tokens.
We can't shrink away from living our lives and achieving our goals for fear that people will make a big deal out of our blackness, but at the same time when you're black you are aware of this phenomenon. As a warrior, my sword is my pen. Writing is my way to fight against lies. But, as I said in this passage, I wrote this blog to show my work because I wanted everyone to know where I got my ideas, and that I have done the hard work to develop every detail of this story. Though that desire is valid, I need to also admit it comes from ego. Just as Mona chose Castor because Castor told her exactly what she wanted to hear, I wanted my audience to understand that this labor came from pain and crafting of my own. So often the structure of the world we live in does not validate that black women write science fiction.
So, though my weapon is writing and my warrior pose grounded by experience, ego is what I need to sacrifice in order to truly win. But how do I stay true when fighting against lies times infinity?
What do I do? Between all these opinions, how do I pick my side? Choose true north. I figured out early that most opinions are circular. You can start with an argument on one side, argue your point on the other.... come back to the first side... it just keeps going round and round. Building teams and sides is false to truth. So look inward to "true north." What I mean by that is, everything that I would tell my childhood self or inner child is "true north." All of that information is real information because I'm responding to pain that I have experienced myself and am providing answers to problems that I know are real. In order that is; Pain, search for answers, find answers, fight to bring what I've found into the public sphere to help others, and finally understand that I will be misunderstood by somebody. Orphan, wanderer, warrior, martyr. Yes, that brings us to our last passage; martyr. Though my weapon is writing and my warrior pose grounded by experience, ego is what I need to sacrifice in order to truly win. I must always know that I will surely be misunderstood. There is no pleasing everybody. In order to choose life I must stand on ground. Belief is solid ground and belief is toxic to truth. So, though I'm a warrior for truth, I must sacrifice my ego's desire to have everyone see my truth as theirs as well. When doing this, one will truly win. In other words, Trust Yourself.
Blog Post FIVE: February 13th, 2018
"Fluid," "Creating Matter," "Errors Of Perception" Explanatory
We've come to my favorite part of the story!!!!!! YAY! Episodes 6, 7, and 8 are the same moment told through 3 perspectives! Each character has a different idea of what happened. Listen to all three below.
"Fluid" Episode 6
Paul -- Detective (and Juggler, read "Hidden Complexity" Explanatory for how I came up with his character) Paul's episode is Episode 6; "Fluid." Moreover, Fluid is the magical stew added to human and machine to make them merge and become cyborg. In "Fluid" Paul investigates Einstein about Digits the Clown's disappearance. Einstein knows that he wants to be creative like Castor and convinces Paul to try out a temporary contraption. While asleep, Paul is connected to The Machine, and through The Machine he meets Digits inside collective consciousness.
"Creating Matter" Episode 7
Einstein -- Episode 7 is called, "Creating Matter." Einstein wants to save his legacy. Castor is making him change The Machine's program from Mythology to Science, but all of Einstein's work is saved in Mythology. Paul comes to question Einstein on Digits' disappearance, and Einstein thinks up an idea to save his legacy. If he changes Paul into a cyborg, he can save the program, Mythology, inside of Paul. So he tricks Paul into going under to try out a device. He tells Paul its temporary. But that's a lie. He changes The Machine's program from Mythology to Science, but successfully plants Mythology into Paul.
"Errors Of Perception" Episode 8
Digits -- 8th Episode! "Errors of Perception." Digits speaks! When he was alive he was mute, but not anymore. Digits will tell you himself. Einstein successfully planted Mythology into Paul, however, Einstein didn't know that Digits was haunting The Machine. By saving Mythology into Paul, he also saved Digits there too. So Digits is capable of controlling Paul's mind. Digits is also capable of controlling The Machine. So though Einstein believes he switched programs from Mythology to Science, someone might have overrode his command. Is their society still running on Mythology when they believe they're now running on Science?
And yes. This story about Mythology, Science and The Machine (which represents the internet) was written years before what we're currently dealing with. This is speculative science people. Written by being honest, paying attention, and making a good old educated guess about what will happen in the future. Read "Hidden Complexity" Explanatory for a timeline of when this was written.
Blog Post SIX: March 5th, 2018
"Civil War" Explanatory
This is when things got eerie. All other episodes I had written years before the 2016 election. This episode was no different, except, I had put off completing the script because production on the rest of the project took priority. When I got back around to completing the script for Civil War, news was ripe with stories about Black Lives Matter and killings of unarmed black people by police. I had planned for Civil War to be the history episode which explained how this world became the way that it is, free of image and divided. I had written the script and the history out at the same time as I had written the others. The script was full and ready, but I hadn't done my final edit before recording. This left me time to add details to Goose's history lesson, and since it seemed like real life was catching up to my story, I added real events from our time, as they were happening in real life. The eerie part is, all I had to do was add in the name of Donald Trump around the speech I had written 2 years before. I added in 2 specific events into a speech I had written about division years before. Those 2 specific events I added were the police killed by a sniper at the end of a Black Lives Matter movement (1) and the anti-racist protesters run over by a car at a White Nationalist march in Charlottesville (2).
You, at least, can follow my story since I first started posting in 2015. Check the date. Part 1 of For Lynda was posted on March 13th 2015 on Youtube. This first post was completed and published years after developing the full story, and outlining every episode with careful character development. I'd say my character development and outline for the story of the audio drama was complete in late 2013 before I moved to Austin in order to focus on production. But even though I know I plotted my outline from 2009 to 2014, YOU can see it and hear it yourself in the post, For Lynda, that the story was plotted by, at least, March 13th 2015 as you can see by the post date on Youtube.
Goose's character focuses on language. In some of my notes for Goose's episode I had written down that you can tell the future of a society by paying attention to their popular language. If you pay attention to the words people use you can tell more about them than purly what they're saying, and if you pay attention to the words a society or group of people are using, you can tell what they believe and therefore can predict their actions. When you can predict people's actions, you can predict "the future."
The song, "Order My Steps," comes to mind when I think of this.
Order my steps in your word dear Lord
Lead me guide me everyday
Send your anointing father I pray
Order my steps in your word
Please, order my steps in your word
Humbly I ask thee teach me your will
While you are working help me be still
Satan is busy God is real
Order my steps in your word
Please, order my steps in your word
Bridle my tongue, Let my words edify
Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in thy sight
Take charge of my thoughts both day and night
Please order my steps in your word
Please order my steps in your word
I want to walk worthy (pause) my calling to fulfill
Please order my steps Lord-----and I'll do your blessed will
The world is ever changing (pause) but you are still the same
If you order my steps (pause) I'll praise your name
Order my steps (pause) in your word
Order my tongue (pause) in your word
Guide my feet (pause) in your word
Wash my heart (pause) in your word
Show me how to walk (pause) in your word
Show me how to talk (pause) in your word
When I need a brand new song to sing
Show me how to let your praises ring
In your word-----
In your word-----
Please order my steps in your word
Please order my steps in your word
Goose is also the religious character in the group. She believes in her husband's inventions, and in the order and structure of The Machine. She believes in Mythology, the program in which the machine is running, up until Castor orders her husband to change programs from Mythology to Science. Her mechanical finish allows Goose to connect to the machine. In this episode we see that Goose is able to detect Paul and Digits' connection inside The Machine. She overhears Digits say that he overrode Einstein's command to change programs and that Mythology is still running. But, Goose doesn't believe what she's hearing. She decides to believe her husband over her own senses.
Blog Post TWO: October 7, 2017
White Rabbit Explanatory
White Supremacy and The Fundamentals of our Origin Myth as Americans, Part 1
How do I even begin this conversation? Again, I must address two hemispheres simultaneously speaking up for their own representation. Again, I have to choose an audience. If you're a member of an audience I'm not addressing first, please hold out. I'll get to you. Usually... traditionally, and therefore considered "the right way" for me to handle this is to address the majority first. The majority would be that box next to "White" you check... you know, if you're part of the majority. See what I did there? Unintentionally, I assumed you were White and addressed the classic majority audience first in this blog. You know, what we're all taught to do. Even as I was writing a sentence addressing the issue, I was telling myself that I would address the Black audience first, and then... there you have it. The White audience got addressed first. Let me get out of my own head and answer your question. You’re wondering why this matters? What’s the difference between audiences? Well, the Black audience I’m referring to wouldn’t need to ask that question. They’d understand what divisions I’m speaking of. The White audience I’m referring to would wonder why there is a division between audiences. They’d believe that all audiences are the same because all people are the same, and I imagine they haven’t noticed that throughout their lives “all” has been represented as “White.” The common denominator, or common linkage between exhibits of the ethnic other in their its-a-small-world carnival enterprise has been through a White gaze that is not reserved for only White people. “He is nucleus to our glorified Adam and phantom pain of revelation’s ominous Eve. He is circular logic and atlas. A ringmaster, still present after the audience dismissal. While jumping through hoops you may ask one day, where is he? He is within the fabric of your knowledge. He is Columbus Myth.” This is the opening to my audio drama, ‘Columbus Myth,’ a metaphorical merry-go-round where I give myself agency to be honest. I started writing Columbus Myth in 2009, when people were claiming that the election of a Black president meant the end of racism in America. Laughable. But people (White people) wanted to believe this was true because it made them feel good. Finally, Columbus had been defeated, they thought. What? Oh. I’ll get into my characters and symbols in a minute. But, bottom line is everyone can see through a White gaze. We’re all taught to in order to survive our White world. So when people use the argument that something or someone can’t be racist, or in support of White Supremacy because a person of color agrees with them, or because some White Supremacist idea came from a person of color, they’re either showing how ignorant they are, or they’re counting on you to be ignorant so they can pull the wool over your eyes. White Supremacy is a theology and methodology that anyone can benefit from no matter what your color or ethnicity. There are several examples of people of color who support White Supremacy, and several reasons this happens, but I don't want to go into it because I'm tired of explaining. I want to speak to an audience who knows already. I want to speak to an audience who has learned from experience and is far advanced than a beginner in this topic. I want to speak to an audience of color. But, I know I have to explain to the majority in order to access a wider audience. We always have to slow down and explain to the majority. And because of that, we know how you (the majority) think. We have to in order to survive.
How did I get there? Well, let me backup. I wanted to write a blog about my latest published episode of Columbus Myth. Episode 4 is Castor's episode, and Castor is my symbolic "White man." Well, I mean, he is a White man but remember in Columbus Myth's time, race is no longer a thing. They live in a post-racial society. Yeah. Don't forget that. Post-racial. Anyway, Castor is the character I planned to symbolically represent White men of our present day existence. I wanted to create such a character for a number of reasons. To list a few... I often saw people mixing up "White people" with "White Supremacy." Columbus represents "White Supremacy." In this episode Castor tries to hide Columbus' body after persuading Justin to delete Columbus' soul from his body. If anyone finds out Columbus is dead, however, Castor becomes ringmaster. Castor doesn't want to become ringmaster so he must keep the illusion alive that Columbus is still with them. He needs to hide Columbus' body. But, why did Castor want Columbus dead if he knew he would become heir to his throne as ringmaster? Columbus had control over Castor, and Castor wanted his freedom. Without Columbus there, Castor can live his life fully without being trapped by the confines of Columbus' rules. As long as the public doesn't know that Columbus is dead, Castor believes he will be free. I wrote this story and Castor's character, along with the other 9 characters in Columbus Myth in 2009/2010. I wrote, directed, and produced a short film following this storyline in early 2015. When Donald Trump won the presidency in late 2016, I could hardly believe how relevant my journey into our psychology and "race" by creating Columbus Myth was. Down to Castor's solution to delete all images of Columbus that were found in "the machine" in order to finally defeat Columbus (who unexpectedly came back to life, violently attacking Digits), compared to the public reaction to White Supremacist groups marching in Charlottesville. After this surprising display of White Nationalism in 2017, the public responded by calling for the removal of Confederate statues (images).
Some felt that removing statues would not get rid of the curse of history living within the structure of our system, culture, and psychology. Others countered that if this were so, removing statues wouldn't hurt our country's memory one bit, but the removal of these monuments would at least set forth in motion a statement against White Supremacy.
It's all very interesting when you write speculative fiction ----- by being uncomfortably honest. Truth eventually comes out. So honesty is the easiest way to tell the future. That, and knowing your history... knowing the story of why you believe what you believe today. A mix of knowing "the past," and being honest is what prediction is made of.
In 2009/2010 I wrote that a mischievous clown named Digits lived inside the internet creating stories to control what the public believed, and controlled search results and any kind of data to manipulate information and shape physical realities. I wrote that a being named Columbus was a symbol of White Supremacy and that he and his adopted son Castor (symbol for white people) would argue about the differences and similarities between Mythology and Science. I wrote that in this future existence the terms Mythology and Science had switched so that the meaning of those terms are interchanged from the meaning that you and I know today, years before this whole "alternative fact," "fake news," "post fact," terminology that people felt liberated to create after the election of Donald Trump. I wrote that Goose (the strong woman, librarian, and mother to Dido) was a strong believer in "the designer" and listened to her husband above all else. She's also the master of words and Earth/ground. Her husband, the ruler of sky/soul/energy. I wrote her episode to deal with war of semantics and misunderstanding between languages. Languages, and words give life and form anthems to war, they're more than sound and air, they are what creates matter. And Einstein, her husband, I wrote to be the designer of Mythology, a program from which "the machine" runs and stores it's data. Paul, I wrote to be Castor's foil. And, Mona is a lover stuck between the two of them unable to choose which one is better for her. I wrote that she can't tell the difference between them as one would mistake Christ for the Anti-Christ or Superman for Bizaro. I wrote that there would be a separation between two cities, The Public District and The Private District. The Public District was a solar punk utopia, and The Private District a cyberpunk dystopian town that lived to entertain The Public District as some kind of celebrity act... Columbus; the ringmaster of the entire cyberpunk show. The Private has to entertain The Public because in this future existence images, film, video has been banned for hundreds of years. So live entertainment is most popular. Fast-forward to 2017 and we have a reality show personality with zero experience in government as President of the United States, after a campaign that he ran on xenophobia, racism, and White Supremacy. He won by appealing to The Public District. "Publizenego, my friends. Signing off. You're ring master, Columbus." I made up the term "Publizenego" to stand in to represent the things you have to say and the things you need to do in order to appeal to The Public District. Writing this story was just a way for me to stay honest while so much of the country celebrated having a Black President. But, as a real Black person myself, I found the celebrations telling of our true state. Skin color shouldn't be a "thing" at all. If we were honestly in the place we thought we were in when Barack Obama was President then his Presidency wouldn't have been a big deal. I followed my instinct when writing this story and arrived at a fictional conclusion that eventually mirrored reality today.
But back to Episode 4 of Columbus Myth (the reason I wrote this blog post). At the end of the episode Castor finally defeats Columbus by deleting his images from "the machine." But then in a video, Columbus announces that Castor will become ringmaster when Columbus expires. Castor sees a picture of himself in the video as well suggesting that Columbus stored a picture of Castor inside of "the machine" as well. This ending was written to represent how White people are trapped, in a way. It's my perspective and my opinion, but I can see it. I can see how even as hard as our allies try, they stay stuck within their unique placement in society. Some don't want to be there. Some try to escape, like Rachel Dolezal. Some try to help by being a conscious ally in whatever way they can. I see their efforts, and I see the trap they're stuck in, too. This episode was my way of addressing what I see from my perspective.
"Civil War" Episode 9 of Columbus Myth
Blog Post THREE: November 16th, 2017
"Scientifically Criminal" Explanatory
Who is going to believe you?
Lynda, my fictional character in Columbus Myth who represents oppression, was written to be that one spirit who knows you are telling the truth. I call her the spirit of oppression. She haunts only those who are oppressed, so she is an inconveniently invisible ally. But she's there for you nonetheless.
I wrote Lynda to be this character you can depend on... when you're feeling alone, and you know its going to be you against world. Lynda understands.
Dido will need Lynda to cope with her new role as star of CoShow. Dido was chosen by Columbus to represent The Circus because she's human, just like The Public. Being a reflection of the way The Public looks/ being human makes Dido relatable to The Public. Therefore, she will be used to bring in the most Trust (currency) for the show. Dido feels inauthentic, used, torn between two worlds, and sad that the home she knows won't accept her because she's too human, but The Public sees her as a Private Citizen/ performer, though they admire her celebrity. Dido feels guilt for being chosen to represent a group of Cyborgs who do not accept her because she's privileged. Does she even have space to complain? She's lucky. Any complaint she makes is ridiculed. How dare she complain when she's such a celebrity. Both sides agree with that. Listen to "Trust Me, Love" (Dido's episode) below to hear how Lynda comforts Dido as the only one who understands.
I wrote "Scientifically Criminal" as Lynda's backstory. She was once a performer in Dido's position, but she was not granted the role she worked towards in her schooling. She worked towards being a Magician (the apprentice to Ringmaster). Her dream was to, one day, become Ringmaster. She scored above Castor on her placement exam to become Magician, but Columbus thought Lynda would be better suited for the role of Lion Tamer because an audience would pay more to see a woman slaying beasts than intellectually captivating an audience with magic, or masterfully deceiving an audience for entertainment. Castor got the job as Magician instead. Again, I wrote these stories long before the 2016 election. Long before "Crooked Hillary" and "Lock Her Up" was a chant. Long before the reality tv star without any experience governing, but decades of experience creating drama/ marketing/ manipulating minds with media won the White House. Long before candidates were announced. I wrote these characters and their stories in 2009/2010. These stories are just a product of honesty. These things were happening on smaller stages all along. We just got a chance to see it happen on a worldwide stage in 2016. Just ask Eve. Adam's Eve. Yes, the one made out of Adam's matter. His rib. No not Atom's matter. No not science. Adam. Not Atom. Yes. Yes. Adam's Eve. The original sinner. Yes her. You know that story, right? Listen to "Scientifically Criminal" below.
You will hear a handful of themes in "Scientifically Criminal." Hair is one of them. I reversed the whole hair situation in this future world. In our world, straight hair is considered more respectable. The reverse is true in my speculative adventure. I made straight hair and straight hairstyles thuggish. I gave a scientific explanation for why people with straight hair are more likely to be criminals. Now remember, in my story science and mythology has interchanged. I did this to make my readers think about what a scientific story is. What is science if you pick and choose scientific facts to weave your own narrative? What is mythology if you first understand the myth to be untrue and primitive? Maybe you're just not understanding the language and ideas that are being communicated in the myth. If you had never taken science in school and someone came up to you and told you a story of an atom and how every solid, liquid, gas, and plasma was made up of these small bits of matter, you might take my scientific explanation for a fairy tale. So when writing my speculative piece, I thought about that. We probably knew more than we know now about the universe back in the past, but now we can't understand the language used to pass down this knowledge. So, how would our future selves misunderstand our scientific language in the future? Anyway, I arrived at future "facts" like... people with straight hair are "Scientifically Criminal." Hopefully this will allow some audiences to make a connection with how kinky hair textures (all our crooked strands) and people who naturally have that hair texture are seen today.
I can't untangle being a woman from being black because I am a black woman and experience both simultaneously, always, together, never diced. You can hear this influence in "Scientifically Criminal." Sure women are taken advantage of, harrassed, not treated fairly... you hear more and more about it today after Harvey Weinstein was outed. I had no idea that this rape culture was so pervasive until the Me Too social media campaign. But I thought this kind of behavior happened to women of color, not white women, and I know that sounds silly, but I thought women of color were the victims of this behavior because creeps understand social relevance and how women of color, particularly black women, have been written by bad science to be more sexual. Research this on your own, but science was used to write a narrative about the negro woman back in times of slavery that made it so white breeders/ owners/ masters wouldn't feel bad about raping their negro slaves. Of course that bad science has been debunked, but you can still see the effects of the myth today in media. It's so bad that black women are expected to be sexual. Just expected to be... like... sexual. Like all the time. Like just... dark skin, women, sex. Creeps take advantage of the idea that people won't believe a black woman's allegations, and/or that people won't care and they abuse these women freely because they think they'll be more likely to get away with it.
Another theme I touch on is cultural appropriation. I talk a little about how people who are not labeled Scientifically Criminal see Scientifically Criminal people as being edgy and anti-establishment. So these Scientifically Criminal culture appropriators wear their hair in straight styles and act out their most Scientifically Criminal fantasies that are really just racist ideas born of the very establishment they're protesting by dressing themselves in symbols drawn for those that their science says are criminal.
Anyway, Lynda is that character who understands when seemingly everyone else doesn't. You hear, "black people are whining about their perceived oppression." Lynda's there for you. You hear, "racism and sexism doesn't exist, those people are too sensitive." Lynda is there for you. You hear, "those women are lying." Lynda is here for you. You don't need them. She understands your hidden complexity.
Blog Post ONE: written sometime in 2015
I remember, when I was in Kindergarten my mom and teacher came to me and asked how I improved my progress so quickly. My response to them was that "I had a plan." My Kindergarten teacher asked me to share that plan if I felt comfortable to do so -- that I could help other students. I shied away from telling her pretty quickly. I knew my plan would only work for me, and I was a little embarrassed about it. So I didn't share.
My plan was to pretend that I was just like the other kids. I was a girl, but I was a black girl and there was a difference.
In pre-school, I remember the teacher telling us to line up for the bathrooms -- girls in one line and boys in the other, and though I knew the answer to that simple request, as I hurried in line with the other kids -- excited like the rest to show how smart I was for knowing where to go -- I suddenly stopped a little stumped when I noticed that everyone in my line had long flowing hair. The boys line all had short hair that didn't flow behind them -- like me. "Was I wrong?" I stood there with a bewildered look on my face contemplating what could have been my error. "My parents had always told me I was a girl," I thought. Then the teacher directed me to the right line. I bet she thought I was the only kid who didn't know -- or maybe that I wasn't paying attention -- or that I was being defiant. But it was at this moment that I first realized that there was a social construct between genders that I did not fit into. This was the first time I noticed that there were symbols assigned to gender. Symbols insidious in their use of physical traits -- features specific to another social construct; race. At home that evening, I asked my mom if I was a boy or a girl, and she answered shocked that I would need to ask. I told her I knew. That I was just making sure. And that was the end of that.
Being a black girl who is socialized with white girls can give you a bit of a complex. Society uses their features as symbols of femininity, so by default you are a girl, but you are a black girl, and there is a difference. My "plan" in kindergarten was to pretend that there was not a difference. My "plan" was to make-believe, in my head, that I was white. In doing this I could ignore the messages that society sent me about how I should act as a different kind of girl. I wasn't a different kind of girl. I was the same kind of girl as everyone else. By doing this -- by thinking this way, my grades improved, I made friends at school, and my overall progress was remarkable. By first grade, I was in a gifted and talented program, and I went on to excel throughout elementary, middle, high school and college with honors.
Psychologist, Claude Steele, describes the risk of subconsciously living up to negative stereotypes as "Stereotype Threat." Watch this video in which Paul Bloom explains: https://youtu.be/328wX2x_s5g?t=22m43s
So finally, decades later, I have revealed that "plan" I came up with in Kindergarten. In my mind, I told myself I was white and I performed better in school. Think about that for a minute. If race is a social construct, and stereotypes affect our psychology so strongly, basically what is happening is some people are given the permission to take on an identity that will psychologically lead them to a better performance. Media and stereotypes are literally shaping our collective mind.
I want to change that. I want all people to have the permission to think of themselves as "the norm." And I know I can't do it all by myself, but I think that using my talents to tell stories that DO NOT use the same stereotypes that we must work within Hollywood is all I can do. And I think that this small contribution is actually much greater than a contribution to Hollywood because it's honest. Real stories -- meaningful stories, come from honesty.