Thank you for writing this, Toni. My follower count jumped from the 600s to the high 900s after my victory. The money helped defray the cost of my son's daycare. I still am waiting and hoping for the book deal to appear after winning the contest. But I wanted to talk a little bit more about what you mean by community support.
When people ask what I write about, I never say "race." Race is the greatest fiction of the West. Race lies about their being biological and genetic differences between people descended from Europe and people descended from Africa. It uses that lie to create racism, a very real politics that demands white supremacy over Black personhood. I feel this story is widely known and accepted by anyone who has knowledge of the world.
I write about Black personhood, the stories on how Black folk live and love in the West, a civilization that did not have our living and loving in mind when white people created it through the triangle trade and slavery. Writing in this vein takes a cultivated, disciplined disinterest in the inner lives of white people. I excise and edit out all ponderings on the motivations, guilt, rage, and ignorance of white people. My writing only gives space to state their behavior; I dedicate the rest to exploring how said behavior politically, economically, socially, culturally, and emotionally impacts Black folk. This focus is the main way Black people live --building a house, making love, going about our abouts and looking out for the predator in the veld-- and I wanted my writing to reflect that.
My stories, I have accepted, will not find a large community on Medium as the platform is one dominated by white people (I am part of an amazing small community called the Writers and Editors of Color though). I do not blame them. Why create a community around a writer who decenters you, who generally ignores white commenters, who wishes you’d let go of the idea of race you’ve erected an exploitative society around? Many of the comments I read about the winning stories were about how they were victimhood narratives, or how we as a collective all represented every box in the Social Justice Warrior toolkit, or how it was less about the quality of our stories and more about how our race, gender, and sexualities caused Medium to crown us. I tackled those accusations directly in the 15th edition of Black on Both Sides (https://medium.com/established-in-1865/bbs15-d80125a691e1), calling out the most prominent offenders by name and tagging them. Only one responded with a weird story about him talking to his imaginary friend about how Black people should not repeat the sins of white people. In such an environment, I am not surprised Meeera, Sarah, and Randi refused to engage. My small #weoc community keeps me here. While Ev built Medium for everyone, the people who have set up shop here don’t value writers like us. That is OK.
I am not interested in teaching white people. It is a distraction from my writer’s purpose. I do not want to be the Black writer in which white readers work out their redemption. My disappointment from not getting a Jessica Wildfire or Umair Hanque following only lasted till the money hit my account. I then put 30% to the side for taxes, wrote a large check for baby's daycare tuition, and attended a lab to learn how to pitch stories.
When I wrote "Black Personhood Does Not Have Equitable Access to the Work of Homeownership," I took it as a challenge to articulate how Black people build their consciousness in real-time. We are a historical people. We are practical. I wanted to show my childhood, the Civil War, and the racial context we live in informs how I go about maintaining my fencing or affixing a water cartridge so I could shower again. My literary goal was to create a story as to how Black folk go about interpreting their daily lives. From the reaction I’ve gotten from other Black readers and writers, I was successful. That is what matters to me, alongside the $10,000.
Again, thanks for writing this!