One of the greatest things that can happen to a writer aside from earning a paycheck for their labor is to know that the words they write affect the people who read those words. While I have been blogging for the past four years, it’s been almost a decade since I entered the world of being a paid writer and in that time writing has been at times both a blessing and a curse. Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting readers that eventually became friends, learning that I am not alone in my struggles and even earning a few bucks!
However the risk of being a writer of color in a state like Maine is that occasionally I piss people off. In the eight years that I have been writing for the Portland Phoenix, I have received the occasional menacing letter and I have received a threat or two. For the most part I have brushed these bad moments off and chalked it up to the price you pay as a writer, you take the good with the bad.
It seems though that my latest column for the Portland Phoenix really pissed one reader off, in fact “Blanche” called up the paper and ended up engaging with my editor who eventually told Blanche “to get her ass out of the Dark Ages” after she told him to tell me “to take my black ass back to Africa”
Last night I shared my editor’s column with both readers of this blog as well as personal friends, some of my peeps chalked it up to me being in Maine, after all ole skool bigots couldn’t possibly exist in such enlightened urbane places such as Chicago, New York, etc. Hold up! If you think racism only exists in lily white states like Maine, sorry to tell ya but that isn’t the case at all. First and only place someone has ever called me a nigger was back home in Chicago. Yes, ma’am got called a nigger by a kid not older than my daughter. During the Gulf War, while protesting with the former Mr. BGIM someone called him a nigger lover…in 1991 in Chicago!
I am a big believer that I want, no need my racists to be open, I don’t care for discrete racism that comes across with a phony ass smile yet gives me that half ass I wish your Black ass wasn’t in this establishment look.
For some reason many of us want so badly to believe we have moved on from the racism of yesterday but the truth is we have not moved on, oh we have made progress but racism is alive and well. Just that most people are too polite or scared to say what they truly think and feel. Hence the Blanche’s of the world amuse me, clearly she is a relic of an area where most likely the only thing a Black woman could do for her was clean and cook and here comes little ole BGIM writing and sharing her views with the world.
One of the questions I often get from angry readers is why am I in Maine? Why not? This is a free country, I follow the rules and pay my taxes and can live any damn where I want to…why do you live in Maine? Unlike you, I wanted to expand my horizons and hell I am a pretty damn productive human here, so kiss off! Of course I am confused as to why Blanche thought I should take my black ass back to Africa, sadly Blanche I have never been to Africa, and I am from Chicago. I could go on but really I am glad for the Blanche’s of the world who serve to remind us that racism is still alive and well. It means I am less likely to get complacent and will instead do whatever it takes so that one day, just one there will be a world for most likely my great grandkids where bigotry is truly gone, not just stashed in the closet like my laundry.