I played my part expertly for years. I was the woman who self-censored. The woman who talked so much, while saying very little. I was charming, non-threatening, a blank slate.
Even I had a breaking point and one day, I decided to speak my mind.
TMZ ran with it. It became known as my “militant” (their word, not mine) period, as though I would snap out of. Speaking my mind as a black woman was a radical act.
The people who once loved my books questioned their support. They had no idea I was so “angry” and suggested I go back to Africa -- the default response.
That weight I carried around was the expectation of others. Stick a quarter in me and I’d perform; people ate it up.
What they loved, felt like me selling out.
I carried the weight like a burden. But when a little girl tells you how much your work means to her, and when your literary idol tells you he’s proud of you, that weight starts to look a feel different.
The truth is, weight can be a badge which you carry proudly. It can be a reminder of the work you still have to do. I thought it would crush me. Instead, it empowered me.