I do not want to write about leaving Austin.
I don’t want to write about it because it feels like generalizing. Because, as someone noted, African Americans are the most vocal minority in Austin to be such a tiny group — 8 percent in a city with an estimated 843,000 folks. Because writing about it suggests ambivalence or ambiguity and I feel neither.
But I’m writing because I think there might be other black women living in Austin or considering living in Austin who might find some recognition in my observations after living here for 8 years - both in Austin and in Texas. These sentiments can probably be extrapolated to other groups and ethnicities but the black woman component is unique and to me, uniquely significant.
Good additions might include:
The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton
Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair
Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara
All June Jordan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni everything
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Words of Fire, an anthology
Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks
The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker
strong girls like you must be
the world’s loneliest creatures
your silences, their own wilderness
where the men
come with promises that they will be
the one that gets you to stay.
big-shouldered boys who will melt
their bones down into currency
and will want to conquer you but
you are the girl they chase
not because they actually want you
but to prove that they can catch you.
what they haven’t learned
are all the times you’ve broken your own heart
on their behalf, those clumsy hunters
who never know the right sequence of words
to do the job properly Safia Elhillo, what you said to me instead (via oddballsdontbounce)
How to Slowly Kill Yourself tackles a diverse swath of African American identities and dilemmas, including critiques of and appreciation for popular culture figures like Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur. There is not likely another nonfiction collection that includes correspondence from aunts, uncles and the author alongside interrogations of black male feminism. The great poet Margaret Walker is mentioned in one breath, then the late comedian Bernie Mac in another. Laymon also writes about his physical and emotional deterioration in the process of attempting to publish his novel, a rare glimpse into the nuances of publishing in the 21st century from a writer’s point of view.
"I’m not trying to be prescriptive," he says. "But I really do believe that to change things, you have to accept whatever it is with compassion and right that, and one of the only ways I know how to do that is through writing. That’s what the book is about. Sometimes, when you can show people in so many words that they are not alone—particularly about something where they felt so alone—you haven’t changed the world, but in some ways, you have committed an act of love, which is to say that you are not alone." In his worst moments, he says he needed most to hear "someone who loved me tell me I was beautiful at my worst moment and that there was something joyful and redemptive in my being,” he acknowledges. “I hope that the essay book can provide a little of that experience for someone, because writing it has provided a little bit of that experience for me." Feature: Continuing a New Black Southern Tradition | Kirkus (via joshunda)