A few years back, when Biden was still a part of “the most diverse group of candidates” to ever run for the democratic presidential nomination, I wrote a piece about him right here on BGIM Media. It was a bit of a warning, I guess. The piece was a lot of facts and links to his history and a bit of snarky commentary about that history. Trump was awful, but Biden terrified me. Everything about his record implied that he’d deport more people than trump, he’d give the cops more money than trump, the citizenry as a whole would have fewer rights under Biden than trump. Luckily, none of that happened (wink) but, I wrote a piece hinting at that.
It did not land well.
While I thought that I was being especially gentle in the presentation of these facts, many others did not feel that way. My inbox flooded with hate mail. Comment sections filled with people calling me a Russian bot. None of those observers engaged with the actual piece. In fact, most of the comments revealed that many of them hadn’t read the piece at all, but nevertheless, they were all very angry with me.
I was stunned. I’d faced hate mail and criticism before, but this felt different. People were angry not with how I’d presented something or that I’d gotten facts wrong. They were angry with the truth of the matter and were blaming me as the messenger. I’d only ever experienced that with racists before that moment, so I was absolutely overwhelmed.
And then it got worse.
Now, look. I don’t really have the words to explain all of what writing for this site has meant to me, but for starters, as a Black person writing for a Black site, there is a weight I do not have to bear. I’ve never had to explain why I capitalize the B in Black. I don’t feel the need to trace everything back to slavery just to make a simple point about contemporary police violence. I don’t have to teach Intro to Racism in America 101.
And the reason I don’t have to do that here is because Shay already did it. She already slogged through all of that bullshit. She pioneered this space and so I get to walk a good distance further down the road than I would have been able to without her. And now that space, the space she’d created and allowed me the privilege of existing in was being destroyed because of something that I’d written.
I was sure I would be fired. And honestly, I figured that would be the right move. It was sudden, but I’d become a liability. This is a job and I was costing the owner money and readership so it made sense. Terrible sense—but sense. I really wouldn’t have blamed her in the slightest.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, Shay wrote a post about it. She explained that the deal was that people came to the site to read points of view that they wouldn’t get otherwise and to pull their money when they saw something they didn’t like was antithetical to their own purpose.
Or something like that.
The point is, it worked. Some old subscribers came back, new ones signed up and the site was saved.
This is my final column as staff writer for BGIM. I may pop in from time to time if it works for the new direction of the site, but this is the end of a journey for me. As a writer, having the opportunity to hone my craft on a near-weekly basis has been crucial. As a Black writer, being sheltered by the structure designed and implemented by another Black writer has been invaluable. And as a Black person in Maine this space has been indispensable. I’m honored, grateful and proud to have been a part of it and can’t wait to see what happens here next.
If you’re looking for me, my new podcast 99 Years just dropped its first season finale with more to come soon. And of course, you can find my monthly column Racisms over at Mainer. Thanks again, Shay, for all that you have done and continue to do.
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