(Check out this anthology HERE.)
So this is a little different than the usual fare around here–if only because I’m in the book in the photo above. Yes, that’s me staring at you from the photo above, and the book I’m holding has a little story to it that I’d like to elaborate on here.
Back in March, at the height of COVID-19 gloom in Asia, I was kicking around my apartment in a mood and decided to attend an online writing workshop being promoted by the writer Boipelo Seswane. The resulting pieces on being Black in Asia were published on the IG story sharing platform Spill Stories later that month, and got a good response. Overall, it was a nice experience but I didn’t think much more would come of it.⠀
Then…things happened in the US and the world. The brains behind Spill decided to turn those stories into a published book, a written record of real Black global experiences in the face of difficulty and erasure. Black writers living in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Thailand and Mongolia were gathered and wrote short vignettes on our experiences living on the world’s largest continent. On July 25th, it was released, to a level of acclaim I personally wasn’t expecting. It’s spent 14 days as #1 on Amazon’s New Releases in Ethnic and Demographic Studies chart. Copies had been bought in 11 different countries last time I checked, and probably far more now. Most recently, the The News Lens published a very thoughtful review of it, and our books are available for sale in stateside indie shops like Printed Matter. Many things are in the pipeline for this bright little book of experiences…and OMG, my story is in it!⠀
It’s an understatement to say how surprised and grateful I am for the opportunity to share a little bit of my journey in Asia in the company of dedicated writers living all over the continent I’ve called home for the past 7 years. The piece I wrote is about the need to define Blackness as it’s own normal, rather than constantly defining it (and yourself, if you are Black) in counterpoint to other things–whiteness, Asian-ness, media projections of Blackness, stinging stereotypes–basically, Black people are normal to ourselves, no matter who we are or where we are, and we need to stand on that foundation in order to truly create the spaces of equity that we are fighting so hard to have rights to. The piece is pretty general–it’s been pointed out to me that there’s nothing in it that points directly to Asia or even South Korea, which is where I currently live–but if you’ve been to SK, you know the appropriation/stereotype/”I like Black music” struggle can be real, and that was what was in my mind when I wrote this piece. If you read it, let me know what you think.
* I know, I know…Amazon AGAIN!? But what did I say about opportunities for small, indie, and international publishers? That said, this post and all others do contain affiliate links so any clicks and purchases will result in a commission being paid. Peace!