(*photo taken from http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com–follow Luvvie too!)
I’ve been a fan of the fantastic Luvvie for the past couple years. I love her wit, her honesty and her SHADE, dahlin. I loved everything about what she did on her site, and tuned into everything she had to say on other visual media she used.
Black. Writers. Matter.
I was going to support a woman that looked like me, familiar with what it was like to be me in a grander social context, and she was effing hilarious. I remember the day announced that she was writing a book, (it was a Facebook Live video she did) and I made a mental note that I would buy it. I made a note that I wanted to go to the release party. I made a note that I wanted to have her sign it.
Moreover, I was encouraged to keep writing.
I beamed every time she said how well it was doing, whom was reading it, that the Grande Dame Shonda Hines had read it and given a quote, further adding all kindsa Black Girl Magic and Firepower to the book. I was happy when she announced the book made it to the NYT Best Seller list, encouraged me to finish the novel I was working on. To date, the book is on its third printing! I was so proud of her! And still am.
Then, she was vulnerable before the watching world this month.
In a Facebook Live video, Luvvie explained just how happy she was, and how hard she had worked, and how after three printings (after another writer friend of hers had gotten the seal of approval from the NYT Best Sellers list within like months of being published), she didn’t get her blurb that indicated the quality and appreciation of her work.
Here. We. Go. Again.
I saw the pain in Luvvie’s face, saw the tears she fought back. I heard the anger as she told how she pushed her book, apart from an agent, to book stores, and airports and how she desired to have the book be seen and read by her international audience, and how it wasn’t available. In her glassy eyes, I saw my own frustration.
It took me back to a place when I told my father I no longer wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, but I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an artist. I was confident, and solid in it–I knew what it was I wanted to do. And he told me, “Why would you want to go to college to write? You can’t eat with an English degree.” With that, our relationship was never the same. Never.
That pain, that rejection, I saw in Luvvie, I saw in myself. The confidence to know what you can do, but being arrested in the pursuit of it. Trying, and doing, and producing, and then not being able to be validated in what it was and is you desire to do. And the shadow of it, the social Boogeyman–as a black woman, you have to be 3 times the woman, to be recognized. My heart broke for her.
To date, because I did check, the New York Times Best Seller sticker pop is on this printing of her book. After the printer/publisher had told her ‘they didn’t know what happened’ that would make that recognition unavailable in or on the priniting before.
In her being transparent, in her anger, she affirmed the frustration I’m sure our scribing/ artistic foremothers felt, especially to Phyllis Wheatley, Harriet Wilson, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Hattie McDaniel–recognition.
One of the few things in this world that are free, aside from salvation is recognition. It costs nothing to affirm, however I cannot stress its value. The fairness of being recognized in something that you are good at, that you worked for and sacrificed to get. Being recongized means everything.
There is a uniqueness in being a part of this intersectionality: black, female and writer. There is a need to be affirmed, recognized and appreciated. There is no reason that time, sacrifice and talent cannot yield recognition, especially by those of a similiar circle and community.
I see you, Luvvie. I see you.
*Luvvie Ajai’s book, I’m Judging You, is available on Amazon, Audible and Kindle. I have mine by virtue of my Kindle. I thank you for your support and your love. Support local authorship, support black authors. Thank you.