Sistah Girls, what in the name of Whitney Houston’s blessed vocals is going on with my skin-folk kinfolk in these digital streets?!
Here we are trickling into the third month of 2023, and this author/reader is in utter confusion and disbelief at the discord in the Black literary community.
Since November-ish of 2022, I have been tiptoeing around my usage of social media. However, during my tentative pop-ins over the last couple of months, I have had the extreme displeasure of witnessing troublesome levels of disunity amongst the Black literary population.
From shady subtweets to full-on mudslinging attacks; the happenings across the digital connection spectrum have not been giving kinfolk vibes in the least.
And you all know I would not be ya Sistah Girl if I didn’t address it.
By now you all should know the routine. Take a second to grab a glass of fermented grapes–a shot of 1800 if need be–and settle yourselves in for a heart-to-heart with ya favorite Midwest Gypsy.
Let’s Keep It Real
It is my personal belief that one of the setbacks of social media is how it takes away a vital humanistic component of our daily interactions with one another.
This is simply a fancy way to say, social media completely alters the way we as human beings treat each other.
Over time, the very platforms we subscribe to have transformed from spur-of-the-moment recaps of our day to personalities, we adorn like costume jewelry; making us forget that, in real life, when you shake a table, the glass resting on top of it tends to fall off and shatter.
Sistah Girls, I’m here to tell you that the glass of the Black literary community has indeed shattered. Thus, the morale of our inner sanctum for Black readers and authors has converted into a place filled with viciousness and disharmony.
This is ever a disheartening notion considering that once upon a time it was illegal for Black people to read at all.
Now, here we are in 2023, and instead of using the online spaces meant for us to connect with, support, and uplift our fellow lovers of Black lit–the discussion of books has taken a backseat to the bulky egos of those who do it for the likes and shares.
People are treating folks any type of way as though they’re unaware that social media isn’t as disconnected from the real world as we like to think. Don’t believe me?
Consider how someone asks the internet to help them find that cutie from the function who got away. Or when a Karen is posted being offensive on a Monday, then by Tuesday their school and job have denounced them because social media detectives have rallied for retribution.
So What Can We Do To Fix It?
While a thug would never profess to have a perfect solution to completely rectify the discord currently facing the Black literary community…I can offer a scenario to (hopefully) put things in perspective and encourage everyone in these Black literary streets to exercise some decorum.
Sistah Girls imagine you’re back in school and it’s finals day. The professor announces that all electronics should be off, all test supplies have been distributed, and you will have one hour to complete your exam.
Swallowing anxiety, you reach into your backpack searching for the Scantron’s lead mate.
After aimlessly searching around for 10 of the 60 minutes designated for the test, you pull your hand out of the backpack with the striking realization that you do not have anything to write with!
You look up at the clock wondering if Father Time and The Flash are of some kin. 40 minutes are left. You look at the professor, they look at you with a grim look and a shake of their head. UH-OH!
Then…just when you start to believe that your late-night studying was in vain, a discreet tap on your left shoulder pulls you toward sanity.
You adjust ever so slightly to look behind you and THERE. IT. IS! The number 2 has never appealed to you more. You grab the pencil with a nod of thanks, complete your exam, and go about your day with restored hope in humanity.
Now, on the flip side. Imagine that entire scenario again, only this time no one thought to offer you their extra pencil. What would you have done? How would you have felt?
I’ve said it once and I will say it again: RESPECT is the name of the game.
How is the Black lit population supposed to flourish and touch the next generation of Black readers and writers if their introduction into this world is chaotic and uninviting?
The same way we make it our business to protect Black literature from being slighted by the willfully ignorant is the same way we need to make it our business to cultivate an inviting community for current and future readers and writers who yearn to share their love of Black stories.
Sistah Girls, there are already too many spaces in the world where Black people are unwelcome. We should not seek to further perpetuate the disconnection of our own by crudely projecting our issues onto someone else.
And we certainly should never deem ourselves as all-knowing in regard to the intentions behind someone’s actions.
It is time that we start allowing our Black literary sistahs and brothas to borrow the pencil of compassion. We do this by offering grace to one another.
By welcoming readers and/or authors into the community. And supporting that new indie author.
Sistah Girls, it is time that we take ourselves off constant defense from our kinfolk who truly mean no harm. And instead, save that shade for the ones it truly belongs to.
If we don’t, then Black literature and the spaces we utilize in their honor will become exactly what they deem it as…nonexistent.
It’s up to us to redirect the ship of Black literature. One compassionate pencil at a time.
Think about it. Peace!
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