I went on a blogging break three weeks ago and it did me some good, but not at first (and I’ll explain why). So far since I started Gradient Lair mid 2012, I’ve only taken a week break at times. At first I did not need any breaks at all because the space was what I intended it to be: safe for me, safe for other Black women. Because of the need to argue, the need to consume and/or the need to voyeur, other people that this space is not intended for came along. Then attention came along. Not interested in attention or fame. When I mentioned what my interest/goal was with this space in my bio and other writing about the space, it was sincere.
During the blogging break, the trolling was actually much higher than when I actively blog, as if people thought that they were going to “punish” me for not being here (i.e. vapid rapid reblogging solely to have some posts re-enter active status and trolled on), or they didn’t know I was on break and simply enjoy trying to inflict harm to keep themselves occupied away from their own thoughts of guilt and/or mediocrity beyond their learned hatred of Black women or me personally.
However, something nice happened as well. A lot, and I mean A LOT of Black women reached out to me. More than the usual and the usual is A LOT too. I just…well…I didn’t realize what I or what I write/share meant so much to so many. I’ve honestly been overwhelmed—positively—by this outreach and it just reminded me of what I know so well. The people who have always had my back throughout my life in any space have mostly been Black women. Y’all made me cry…in a good way. My primary concern is for my own mental health and health and the mental health and health of other Black women who I connect with here. When Black women email me daily about what I’m saying helping them, that’s my most important activism beyond self-care as a Black woman. That’s the center of my womanist praxis, not the only, but yes the center. Self-love, self-care and connection are radical acts for Black women as we’re dehumanized and not expected to have any of these. Well, I do. ❤
For those who aren’t fellow Black women and aren’t my target readers that I share my thoughts and life with—because that is what this is, I am a person and my life doesn’t exist solely as a “resource” for others to consume—I appreciate if you weren’t abusive and trolling and hyper-consumed/reblogged 25 of my posts a day opening the door to massive trolling during my break (cause the latter actually happened). Consumption alone—especially of Whites consuming what I create—is not activism. I appreciate if you actually recognize my humanity the way I am reared to recognize yours because people are not reared to recognize Black women’s humanity. It’s unlearning and a choice before that happens.
I did something with my Twitter (the personal one @thetrudz, not @GradientLair). I signed up for that SumAll statistics report because it shows what my use, people’s interactions with me and reach looks like. Here’s what they told me for last week, which is not even a full week but several days since I signed up midweek: 159 new followers, 561 mentions, 2,060,000 mentions reach, 1,630 replies, 3,920 retweets, 4,140,000 retweet reach. Tumblr averages since last September are 100K notes a month, 1,000 new subscribers a month and up to 500K page views a month. That’s what I mean by social media hypervisibility as a Black woman. I’m not a star. I don’t write for anyone mainstream. I have a one person blog on a free platform. I’m not a journalist. Thus, this is A LOT of activity for a single individual. My words are used properly and improperly on the regular. It’s never a moment just to tweet friends or write what I want to write without the macro hypervisibility that comes with being a Black woman in the White and male gazes, in general, but also micro hypervisibility that comes with being a Black woman writer where people not only want to challenge my words in the most violent ways but also challenge my actual humanity, as if dehumanization is a legitimate side in a “debate;” as if humanity being “debatable” isn’t the highest form of oppression.
I went through all of this before too, but in the photography industry. This cycle: idea → create → fine tune → reach target → get popular → deal with content mining/trolling and plagiarism → deal with trolling and abuse → deal with people demanding that I want fame; NO → tire → leave. It took me disappearing away from the known photography and social media industry and coming back about a year later with a different focus and space to have any peace in that world. It’s so much better now there, not being “seen” and interacting with a few critically thinking, socially conscious photographers. Shooting what I want. Writing what I want. Not everyone wants to be on stage. Or even in the audience.
While I no longer use Tumblr as a base place to have conversations—which I mentioned before is how I use Twitter instead—I do miss some of the Black women that I spoke to here who don’t have Twitter, albeit a few have made Twitter accounts solely because they didn’t know if I would return here. I don’t know if I am “back” to blogging at Gradient Lair as a definite status juxtaposed to “not back” to blogging. I have to remain honest with myself when I say that days where I barely or do not use social media, experience no street harassment offline and spend quality time alone or with Black women that I care about offline are days where I feel most happiest and healthiest. In the way I play Twitter by ear and just see if I can stand each day versus having some sort of long term social media “plan” is the way I have to use Tumblr, or else delete it altogether. I can say that I am back today. I don’t know about tomorrow or any other day yet. We’ll see.
P.S. - I really appreciate those who’ve been supportive and donated towards my time, writing, ideas etc. If interested click here: Donate