To say I was insulted would be the understatement of life. I mean, I grew up in an era when African Americans were way more likely to be seen on television either bouncing basketballs or being paraded in perp walks on the evening news than we were doing something positive; mainstream media got a kick, it seemed, out of displaying black stereotypes in technicolor. The whole reason I became a journalist was to shine a light on the beauty and complexity of us—to write about what I know to be true about my people.
Honestly, I saw no difference between my choice to write about African Americans in politics, in entertainment, in pockets of Brooklyn and Harlem and on the national stage and that of a journalist who chose to cover Wall Street or China. Telling me I wouldn’t prosper in my career as a writer if I continued to cover black people was foul. And I decided in that moment to prove that editor wrong.
I’ve since built quite a career training my lens on black folk. My work as an award-winning journalist, editor, blogger, bestselling author, award-winning children’s book publisher, film producer, TV show host, podcaster and freelancer serve as a testament to this. Focusing on blackness has served me well, from and the people who read and watch my work well, to all the way down to my children.
In the first segment, I invite my babies, Mari and Lila, to talk to me about their blackness—how its shaped the lives of two middle-class African American girls raised by a woman who practically walks through her days with her fist in the air. And let me tell you, it was something else to listen to my daughters make surprising revelations about their blackness—revelations that made me question just how I, as a black parent, poured blackness into my kids.