Black Was Not A Label is my debut book, a collection of creative nonfiction essays forthcoming from PRONTO online and in bookstores this Fall (2019). The collection first began taking shape in the spring of 2014 with the inception of “Defiance,” a braided narrative essay that combined three stories from my not-too-distant past: when, in high school, a new friend labeled me as his “black friend;” when an (old, white) English professor had me say “Niggers” in class my first year of college, and when I cut my hair.
Each of these moments shaped me and set me on a journey of self-discovery. In short, my double consciousness was not so much rudely awakened as it was finally recognized, and it has brought startling awareness to every experience, every relationship, every moment of my life since.
This collection is a lamentation prayer to Father God. It is a meditation on love and desire, on feeling undesirable. It is a struggle between the realities of my past, the horrors of my ancestral history. It is a declaration of faith in the face of deep disappointments. It is a love letter to my body, my skin, my hair. It is my soul bound up in words.
I’m thankful to have been given a voice and to share it. Thankful to and for those who will engage with the deepest parts of my being. Thankful to Pronto for handling my heart. Thankful to the many literary journals and magazines who gave these essays their first homes. Thankful to you, reader.