As an author, I specifically keep an eye open for black literature, movies, and content that speaks to the black experiences. It is always at the top of my Instagram feed or in the shows I watch, as I love to look for inspiration and ways to improve my own work. I love the black creative process and the amazing work that we do. After writing and observing for all these years the amazing things that black creatives have accomplished, there is simply an undeniable fact: black people write the best black stories, and theirs no way around it. I can’t imagine trying to write the experiences of something I haven't lived, or about a demographic that I am not apart of. Where would start? How would I feel? how would I imagine they feel? And, why would I be in the position to write about their experiences in the first place? I shouldn't be. They should be at the table leading the discussion, explaining how they have moved forward and how they want their story to be told. Black creatives are no different. Our voice is the voice of our community and only we can set the story straight. Although, no single black person speaks for everyone, having our foot in the door and our butts in a seat can really make a difference. In order to get the organic, real and authentic details of the black experience, you need black creatives in the room--it's not an option.
Not only do black creatives need to be in the room, but black spaces are imperative for these creatives to work freely. For example, Tyler Perry Studios, a 330-acre space full of blackness and opportunity. The ability of actors and filmmakers to have such a massive space to write and be themselves is an immense accomplishment, and Tyler Perry is definitely the one to thank. But, before Tyler Perry Studios there were so many black creatives that opened doors, led the way and allowed for layer on top of layers of excellence to lead to this amazing studio and amazing people to fill it. Movies such as Black Panther, (directed by Ryan Coogler), Selma and When They See Us (directed by Ava DuVernay), as well as Get Out and Us (directed by Jordan Peele) are just the mainstream examples of black excellence and an inspiration for all black creatives to shoot their shot and be proud of their unique and black stories. These works still give me chills, hope, and an immense amount of respect for the black creatives that lead the way. There are a countless number of shows, books, and movies that are being poured out of the hearts and souls of the black creatives who write them. These individuals, and others before them, give future black creatives the power to push the envelope of their ideas.
The reason why black creatives are so essential is that representation matters. I feel like I shouldn't have to say that, but the honest truth is that a lot of people don't know. As a children's book author that writes stories featuring black characters, I have seen my impact first hand. Students are searching for themselves. And, as opposed to having to fight tooth and nail through google searches for a character they can relate to, we as creatives should give them everything they want and more. We should be writing, filming, painting, and creating what we wish we had. Thinking back to the types of characters that I was never able to see as black or brown really makes me understand how important this representation is. For a long time, the perfect protagonist looked nothing like me and that has to end with us.
I encourage you, that if you have a story, an idea, a script, a thought, or a feeling to go for it! There is more than enough room for your creative spirit and what you have to bring to the table. No one can be uniquely you and no one can tell a story like you. But, you have to be the one to take the first steps. Be willing to learn and take chances. Take time out of your day to write, or blog or film because you deserve that much. And, not to mention, we're all counting on you.