This year, I put aside my pride and set out to be the best writer that I could possibly be. That means sending my drafts out to magazines, writing plays, articles and whatever else I can. It means asking for help, advice and critiques from those who are better than I am. It means writing everyday even when the facet of inspiration drips slowly. It means giving it my all.
I am moved by the women on this list.
Seeing these 9 advocates write, share, explore and be all types of fierce helped me come into my own as a writer. These 9 Negra artists are a sampling of the many women who motivate me to pick up the pen everyday. To each of you, whether I know you personally or not, this is my way of saying “Thank you”.
1. Ariana Brown
I met this talented Afro-Mexicana poet at a talent show during my sophomore year. She took home a well-deserved first place. Ariana’s talent for using words to describe place, space and her existence is (for lack of a better word) freakin’ awesome. It would be a lie to say that I have not cried while listening to one of her poems. She is the embodiment of Black girl/Brown girl power! Ariana is not afraid to speak her truth, say her piece and stand firm in what she believes in. That’s why audiences and writers like me feel her work so much.
2. Janel Martinez
When I discovered Janel Martinez’s amazing website dedicated to Afrolatinas, I was hooked. Martinez has a way with words that grabs the reader’s attention. I kept going back to her blog, Ain’t I Latina? because I loved her heart-filled stories about taking pride in her identity. Not to mention, she uplifts everyday Afrolatinas doing big things by telling their stories through interviews and features. Martinez shows us that as a writer you are given your platform not just to showcase your talents but to empower others too.
3. Jacqueline Lawton
This list would not be accurate without one of the women who inspired me to pursue theatre when I was thinking of giving it up. Lawton’s work and writing champions diversity because she includes characters from a variety of cultures. But it isn’t just her writing that inspires me. It is her dedication to being an advocate for diversity in the American Theatre sphere, a place that has been white-washed, that has kept me coming back to her work. Lawton shows that African American women from Texas can and do have the power to tell incredible stories on stage.
4. Insurgent Prieta
I came across Insurgient Prieta’s blog space a few months ago but it turns out we were a part of the NYC Latina Writers Facebook group months before. What I enjoy about this woman’s work is the cutting-edge honesty. Something I have struggled with in my own writing. I also admire her use of two languages and her lack of apology or disclaimer for doing so. Everytime I read an Insurgent Prieta post, I know I’m going to get something “Real” not sugar-coated and flour-baked.
5. Dr. Omi Jones
This is another woman that I cannot complete this list without including. Dr. Jones has taught me, guided me and given me advice on my work. It is because of her African American Theatre History course that I continue to write. Before that course, the only Black plays that I knew of were A Raisin in the Sun and maybe the Wiz. This women introduced me to the work of Amiri Barraka and in addition to being a scholar and performer, Dr. Jones is a writer whose musings on African American Theatre are cited in just about every Theatre Ph.D’s thesis.
6. Shonda Rhimes
Shonda is epic. Although she missed me on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Shonda has me all over How to Get Away With Murder. No, she didn’t write it. But she is a screenwriter whose work has provided places and spaces for marginalized folk (especially BLACK WOMEN) to live and thrive. Shonda is my hero.
7. Tyece from Twenties Unscripted
I don’t remember the moment I met Twenties Unscripted but we have been inseperable ever since. Tyece has a knack for saying the things outloud that most keep in their heads in a creative way. She is truly fearless. I will never forget her riveting piece “The Thing About Women Like You” because I was snapping and saying “yasss” after every line. So many 20 something Black women frequent her blog because her writing resonates with them. Tyece rants and roars and scripts blogs posts with a determination that is refreshing.
8. Alicia Annabel Santos
Santos is one of my favorite writers because she believes in the power of dreams. Every post she releases, tweet she tweets or drop of wisdom she releases out in the world is a ray of sunshine for your darkest hour. Writing should not only recount the happenings of the world but it should provide hope and healing. That’s what Santos provides with her blog and by creating spaces for women of color to write with the NYC Latina Writers group.
9. J.A. Smith
PHOTO CREDIT: examiner.com
Last but not least, is my 9th grade teacher whose work has grown in the past six years from one play to many. J.A. Smith’s knack for creating characters that remind us of family and friends is magical. I’ve had the opportunity to read some of her works and each time I am in awe of her ability to create strong and relatable characters that make the audience laugh, cry and want for more. She is not just a writer but a mentor, teacher and trailblazer whose footsteps I hope to follow one day.
Thank you ladies for writing your world as you see it. For raising your voices loud and clear for the world to hear. Escribelanegra (Write it, Black woman). Who inspires you to write? Share below.