United We Stand . . .
I began my writing journey eleven years ago for a number of reasons. The first was purely selfish; I wanted to finally do what I have been dabbling at since the fifth grade. Another reason was personal; I wanted to write books where people that looked like me were the heroes and sheroes, not sideline characters or poorly crafted stereotypes. The third reason was to celebrate my African and African Diaspora history, culture and origins. Since that time I have had the privilege to not only publish over thirty books, I've also had the honor to work with brothers and sisters throughout the Diaspora doing the same thing through traditional and indie publishing. It's been an amazing experience to collaborate with people throughout the world. I've been encouraged by those who have responded to my work, and my experiences have been enriched by the writings emerging from the African continent and throughout the Diaspora. I've learned so much about continental African and Diaspora cultures over time, each bit of information making my own writing stronger.
Recently however, my joy has been somewhat eroded. As our work is finally being recognized and rewarded via the mainstream, it seems our camaraderie has suffered. Some of us, instead of continuing to lift up our community as a whole, have decided to go for the gold by disparaging others and bringing attention to their culture by attacking others. These are emotions that have run under the surface for centuries, some sparked by attitudes rooted in slavery and colonial culture. Some of us cling to the notion that there's only so much out there, and even less for us. We need to step back a minute and remember how we got here; a conscious collective effort, that has expanded the readership and market perception of what Black imagination is and what we are capable of. We can't let the prospect of financial success blur our focus or set us against one another. This is the time we should pull closer together to make sure that our contributions are a permanent change to the landscape, not a trend that eventually ends up in the hands of those that only see it as a profit point.
Now I know everyone can't work with everybody; we're all human. But we should continue to respect each others efforts as long as they are not abusive, and we should seek to support all the different aspects of the Diaspora cultures around the world while working to distinguish our own unique voices. This can be done without disparaging our fellow Diasporans. The saying 'A rising tide lifts all boats' has been thrown around a lot, and it's true. Let's continue to rise together without trying to sink others.