Over the years, here and there, I’ve experienced times when either my writing or my insight into others’ writing was always on the outskirts of what was “correct.” Through high school, I just chalked it up to my thinking differently. I didn’t give it much thought until college, when I felt trapped in a creative writing class that threatened my GPA. While I understood this was college, I was still confident in my writing ability, affirmed by 90+% of my teachers since kindergarten. Yet my frustration mounted class after class as I became completely unable to satisfy this professor who struggled himself to articulate what he wanted from me and how my completed assignments missed the mark.
Eventually, he became ill and could not finish the semester. Oh, yes – he was a white male. Who took over the class? An African-American woman. Whaaat? OMG – my whole life turned around the moment I received my first grade from her – A. Coincidence? Not at all. I’m certain of it now, as I’ve continued to pay more attention to critiques of my work and hear the testimonies of other artists of color.
Not one of us – no matter the ethnicity – can avoid creating, working, living out of our own contexts, our experiences and our perspectives. What a tragedy for anyone in the seat of critic, evaluator, judge to impose her context on another and dare to claim it as impartial, objective, fair.
I cannot say that I have any kind of solution, necessarily. Today I simply rejoice in the revelation and in the various spaces and ways available to me to be my kind of writer and share it with its audiences – knowing definitively that it’s helping someone. That someone gets it and I no longer have to try to fit myself or my work into any kind of approval box to know that I am talented and that it is good, great – or amazing! 😉
(c) 2016, candi dugas, llc