If you have any trouble viewing the slideshow, click here for the PDF version.
If you have any trouble viewing the slideshow, click here for the PDF version.
Tomorrow concludes what has been a four-month journey of writing, researching, storytelling, interviewing, growing and evolving as I finish up The War on Black Women’s Bodies. I keep waiting for the tears to come (and I’m sure they will) as I really consider what I’ve done and accomplished with this piece of work. What started back in September as a simple blog post transformed into a multi-faceted project that took on a life of its own. I am forever changed and so is this blog because of The War on Black Women’s Bodies. For those wondering what’s next, just know that if you know me, “next” has already been envisioned and planned. I do not plan to abandon this project, the community we’ve built around it and the momentum the idea has gained. Stay tuned, that’s all I can offer for now.
But, before the project wraps up tomorrow, I want to take some time to spotlight all of the beautiful, smart, complex and insightful women who contributed to the series. I completed 25 individual interviews, coordinated a photo shoot and partnered closely with several women on the branding and editing of the series. All of these women brought their experiences, truth, talent and vulnerability to the project, adding layers to it that I would have never been able to create myself. Much applause and love to each and every one of these women for contributing to a body of work that has brought me pride, joy and renewal. I hope each of you feel that same pride, joy and renewal when you consider what we have achieved together.
Series Editor: Denni Cravins
Denni has been the unsung hero behind this series. From pulling articles to reference to dealing with each draft sent bit by bit (usually very late at night), Denni made sure the series was polished, informed and ready to get published every Wednesday. I may love writing, but I am the shittiest of editors, and that’s where Denni’s expertise and insight really came in to play.
Graphic Designer: Kalani Hillman
When I decided to move forward with the WOBWB as a full series instead of a blog post, I knew it would need some sort of branding to really anchor the concept. My friend and graphic designer Kalani Hillman stepped in, offered several options and didn’t even fight me too much when I insisted on using hot pink instead of red for the word “War.” (Hey, Twenties Unscripted branding, what can I say?) She created a design that I was happy to inundate Instagram timelines with week after week.
Series Finale Photographer: Jazzmin Williams
I almost feel like I can’t say much about Jazz because I just want you to see her power and talent at work in the photo gallery series finale tomorrow. When my sister Alexis (another unsung advisor for this project!) first suggested a photo shoot for the series finale, I ran with the idea like a madwoman. The concept came about around 5 p.m. and by 11 p.m. that night I had worked with Jazz and we booked studio space to set the idea in motion. Jazz is the first person I ever met because of my blog. We’ve come a long way since that first brunch at Busboys and Poets, and she continues to lend her photography talent to Twenties Unscripted and her friendship to little old me.
The following women have all contributed to various parts of the series through the interviews I conducted. I can’t begin to tell you what it meant to sit on the phone with each of these women as they shared their wit, told their stories and shed their layers. Ladies, I’m forever indebted to you:
Part 1: Media & Pop Culture
Part 2: Sexuality & Sexual Assault
Part 3: Domestic Violence
Part 4: Healthcare
Part 5: Mind & Spirit
Dr. Joy Harden Bradford
Curvy of CurvyCEO
Parts 2 and 5–Sexuality and Sexual Assault & Mind and Spirit
Parts 4 and 5–Healthcare & Mind and Spirit
Finally, get ready to TURN UP for the beautiful women who modeled as a part of tomorrow’s photo gallery finale, The Revolution: Celebrating Black Women’s Bodies!
Alexis (my sister!)
Martha (my mommy!)
Thank you all for supporting this project. Women from every shade, age, shape and size. Thank you for believing in this project. Thank you for the emails, the tweets, the Facebook shares, the text messages, the words of encouragement. There is not any other major creative note I would want to end 2014 on. After something like this, you can’t go back to just writing blog posts. You can’t go back to just saying “NEW POST, FOOL.” You can’t go back to a few good events. After something like this, you realize there is beauty and fulfillment in doing the difficult, tough, nearly-impossible and revolutionary work.
Thank you all. Times 100.
TOMORROW IS THE BIG DAY! The War on Black Women’s Bodies will conclude with a photo gallery that you don’t want to miss. You’ll laugh. You may cry. You’ll think. And you will appreciate the complexity and beauty among black women so much more. See you for the finale!
Click here to read Part 5 of the series!
Click here to read.
I did not know when I jotted down “The War on Black Women’s Bodies” in my tattered notebook that the idea would evolve into something so much greater. More monumental. More meaningful. More transformative. I did not know the idea would evolve into one of the most important pieces in my still-very-infant body of work. At the time, I thought I was simply writing down the title of one of my more serious blog posts.
Earlier this autumn, I had a Gchat conversation with a friend, also the graphic designer who has worked on the series, about feeling both nervous and excited to implement the idea. In response, she said, “I think also you’ve taken a good amount of time to establish yourself and your blog so you can have these moments and take time out for certain things.” While Twenties Unscripted started as nothing more than a sincere, sassy and smart-assy take on growing up, the space has now changed.
Because now I realize growing up is about stepping outside of my own world and peering into the bigger world and what the implications of that bigger world mean for me. As I’ve said before in a poem, “This year was the first year that I ever looked at myself in the mirror and wondered if this world gives two shits about its black women.” I realized black women were in a state of emergency, battling so many issues that I had never really given voice to on my blog. So I knew I could turn a blind eye and keep writing 800-word posts about my quarter-life crisis woes, or I could pay attention and decide to do the real work.
This series has pushed me and changed me as a writer for the better. It has forced me to dig through books, interview women and pull bits and pieces of the information I’ve gathered to construct a cohesive narrative around substantial issues. It has made me stay up until 2 a.m., writing and making sure I was getting it right. It has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and write beyond my own personal experiences. It has allowed me to understand what it means to work closely with an editor, to entrust my work to someone else knowing she will see the gaps and fix the hiccups better than I ever could.
But, more than anything, this series has introduced me to so, so, so many revolutionary women. I have fused facts with other people’s non-fiction. I have mixed stats with personal history. I have had the opportunity to speak with countless women as they have invited me to in to their mental, emotional and spiritual spaces. They have shared stories. They have schooled me on things I never considered before. They have challenged my own views and changed my own perspectives. I plan to list each of the contributors by name during the series finale, but for now, just know I am forever indebted to these women. I am honored, humbled and grateful to them for layering this project with the power of personal narratives. There is not a soul on this planet who can tell me that women sharing our stories is not revolutionary.
I owe these women the world and then some because they will always be part of a project that renewed me as a writer and a woman. I do not know where I would be without this project. I don’t know if I would still be writing. I don’t know if I would still feel an ounce of confidence about this space. It was a hard fucking year, and I can not think of a better and more beautiful note to end it on other than writing this series.
I am excited to write and share the second half of The War on Black Women’s Bodies beginning this Wednesday, Dec. 3. I am also excited to spill a little secret that this series will not end on December 17. There is more work to do. Stay tuned.
And be sure to join me and Part 3 co-writer Erica of EverythingEnJ this Wednesday for a special Twitter chat tackling all six parts of the series! See you there!