Dear word nerd,
For the past week, I have watched with outrage and horror at the events that have taken place. The murder of an innocent black man, the violence and aggression toward peaceful protesters, and the perpetual lack of initiative and empathy from many of our leaders during this time of extreme crisis.
I don’t often bring up politics at DIY MFA, but writing is in and of itself a political act and to proceed as though it were “business as usual” would be a slap in the face of the black writers in this community. If this subject makes you uncomfortable… good. It should. It makes me uncomfortable, too. But our comfort is not the point. Growth cannot happen in a state of complacency.
As writers, we have a responsibility to use our words for the power of good. Every time I take up the pen, I must grapple with a painful truth: while my voice is being heard, there are many black writers whose voices have been silenced for far too long. As the leader of this community, it is (quite literally) my job to make sure that those voices are amplified. I do not take this responsibility lightly.
Right now, you’ve probably received dozens of emails from businesses or influencers telling you all the wonderful things they’re doing to “be better” during these troubled times. For several days, I watched quietly, not sure what to do or say. Frankly, it seemed like whatever I did or said would not begin to be enough.
I’ll admit I’ve been going down that internet rabbit hole a lot lately, trying to figure out the right thing to do. All I’ve found is conflicting advice. One article says white folks should shut up and listen, while another says to stop making black people explain themselves. On social media, some accounts are posting blackout squares and muting themselves for a week. Others are posting quotes about how silence is a form of complicity.
As I tossed and turned last night, a thought popped into my head: “No matter what I do, I can’t win. Someone will always find fault.”
And that’s when it hit me.
For black people, “I can’t win” is the status quo. It’s the reality they have lived with for their entire lives. It has been their reality for hundreds of years, and the way things are going this reality isn’t about to change any time soon. Whether or not I get to “win” is irrelevant.
This morning, I had a very different email ready to go out with exciting announcements I was dying to share with you. Obviously, that email will have to wait. Right now, what matters is that people are hurting, and I and DIY MFA are committed to serving our word nerds the best that we can. At the moment, we are especially focused on helping to amplify the voices of black writers.
To that end, as part of our Writer Igniter Summit, I have decided we will also be unlocking past summit interviews with black authors and these interviews will remain open throughout the entire upcoming summit. These interviews are open right now and will continue to be so until June 22nd at 12pm ET, when the final summit interview will close. We are doing this in order to amplify these authors’ voices and make their words and insights as widely accessible as possible.
These authors are amazing. Please listen as they share their thoughts about writing, and if their books speak to you, buy a copy!
Listen to these interviews here:
- Patrice Gopo talks about personal essay vs. memoir.
- Aliza Mann shares insights on how to plot a romance from beginning to end.
- Juno Rushdan gives us an inside look at crafting romantic thrillers.
In addition, we also want to take a moment to highlight the talented and inspiring black authors who have appeared on DIY MFA Radio. Please listen to the interviews to get their insights about books and writing, and buy their books. These are truly wonderful books from many different genres, and there’s something on this list for every reader.
165: Weaving Fiction from Reality — Interview with Zinzi Clemmons (Literary Fiction)
177: Narration and Voice — Interview with Ayobami Adebayo (Literary Fiction)
187: A Book with a Purpose — Interview with Eucabeth Odhiambo (Middle Grade Fiction)
210: Showing the Diversity within Diversity — Interview with Tami Charles (Young Adult Fiction)
242: Challenging the Status Quo — Interview with Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams (Young Adult Nonfiction)
251: Finding Your Why — Interview with Patrice Gopo (Essay Collection)
269: Writing Speculative Fiction — Interview with Cadwell Turnbull (Speculative Fiction)
288: Find Your Community — Interview with Janae Marks (Contemporary Middle Grade)
296: Fairy Tales, Vernacular, and the Art of Storytelling — Interview with Curdella Forbes (Literary Fiction with elements of magical realism)
298: Character-Driven YA and Middle Grade — Interview with Brandy Colbert (Middle Grade and YA)
I can’t begin to pretend to understand the pain and anger that many members of this community must be feeling right now. My team and I will continue to do our utmost to live up to our core values of service, responsibility, and love by amplifying diverse voices on the DIY MFA website and podcast. If there are underrepresented authors we need to feature, please email us and let us know. If there are organizations we should partner with or resources we should support, please email us and let us know.
Sending you loads of literary love,
Gabriela Pereira is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and the founder of DIY MFA.
Please note: We are disabling comments for this post. Here’s why. We appreciate all the love and support we received from our community when this message first went out via email. At the same time, we are also keenly aware that this is not about us. If you’d like to show support for what has been said here, do it by purchasing a book by one of the wonderful authors listed above. Our goal is to keep this post focused on what it’s really about: amplifying black voices. If you have something you need to say, reach out to support@DIYMFA.com.