I watched Roxane Gay talk to Trevor Noah about her memoir as told through the voice of her fat body. Was this some sort of a cruel joke? That was my first thought, chewing nervously at the inside of my cheeks in utter disbelief at the gall of the universe. Did I not just submit a book proposal promising the exact same thing to a literary agent just this week? I clinched down harder, then released. Wait. A beat and a half before I remembered that no one was competition and that a name such as hers only helped to create space for my work. Naaaahhhh my inner Kanye wasn't buying it. The big green monster was full on raging inside my head and all she kept asking was When is it MY turn. I gave her a moment, and then I resumed control of the situation and my emotions.
This really is great. I'd admired her work and even opened my last course on Black Feminist Thought, and Activism using an excerpt from her book Bad Feminist. I was a fan of Roxane Gay, even though, and truthfully BECAUSE our stories did this fun little dance of convergence and very stark divergence on certain topics. I always got upset with her when she did not agree with me, as though she should. As though all role models, imaginary or realized, should be the prototype. I had to seriously check myself. I had to give snaps in the snap jar for Roxane and then I had to investigate the validity of my egos claim with some care and silk gloves.
Have you done everything you possibly can to elevate your writing and your work to a national platform? The question tasted like cod liver oil. I spit it back out and lowered my eyes angrily. It did not matter that I had not submitted articles to every major digital and print publication who would support my voice. It didn't matter because People should just know.
I chuckled at my internal dialogue despite myself. And I searched my own eyes for the root cause of my pain and my outburst. This was about silence again. This was about feeling unheard and feeling unseen; not at all by the millions of watchers of The Daily Show. No, this was a different and much more personal invisibility that was plaguing me and causing me to lash out irrationally at fat feminists on the internet.
This...was a hurt I just met in this very moment of catharsis and this is a conversation I cannot have quite yet...