Writing about love during times of hate
Love is a battle.
Love is a war.
— James Baldwin
Love is a difficult thing to write about.
It doesn’t seem this way at first. We think there’s so much to say because there’s so much we feel in the moment, but then when we put fingers to keys, it just becomes incoherent mush. That is why the popular thing to do these days when it’s time to express joy is to do this a;npogifhaptgag
or this: !!!!!!!!!!!!
or this: Yaaaaaaaaasssss
or we write out a bunch of emojis. (My personal favorite is the flame emoji.)
Another reason love is probably more difficult than ever to write about is because in 2015, it seemed like we saw less of it playing out on the news and in social media. In his annual Who Won the Year bracket, Rembert Browne writing for New York Magazine crowned “Hate” as the unfortunate champion of 2015. Granted that’s only one man’s opinion, but if you read the whole article (which you should do after finishing this one) how he got there makes sense. There is not one group of people that exists today who doesn’t feel like someone is hating on them. Black people. White people. Men. Women. LGBT. Muslims. Christians. Americans. Foreigners. Democrats. Republicans. Everyone swears everyone hates them.
Some of these groups have a much stronger, more legitimate case for this feeling than others, but you get the point. This was the year everyone felt at some point like society was out to kill them or against them. This was the year when I often woke up, checked my phone, and saw a news alert that crushed me. All I could do was turn around and hold Gina, then pray for the strength to make it through the day.
I didn’t know it when we met, but Gina came along at the perfect time. We went out on our first date in the eleventh month of 2013, a year that doesn’t really stand out with the exception of meeting her at the tail end of it. But then 2014 came around, the summer that we all began to notice a change in this country. This is when Mike Brown was killed and Ferguson started burning and if you are a writer of color, it is when you felt a burden to write about the pain you felt and saw.
At the time, I was still at the New York Post, as a dating reporter. It was without a doubt, a very cool job, but I also felt inadequate. How could I write about fun topics like dating and restaurants when my people were hurting and our communities were burning? The easy answer to that question is that’s what I was paid to do, but the more honest answer is I was too afraid to touch the heavy stuff with my words.
Writing is hard, and just because you care about the topic you want to write about doesn’t make it any easier. One of the things that can make it difficult is getting over the idea that you’re good enough because there are so many other talented people who are doing it at a high level. I’ve never doubted my ability to write about my own personal pain, but this particular pain I’ve felt over the last year-and-a-half is much bigger than me and so I backed away. I was a professional writer who felt that I should leave it up to the pros and stay in my lane. So instead of trying to go in on all the fucked up shit I saw happening to us, I waited until things were quiet and the mood was lighter before I wrote something that dealt with the less dramatic but much more relatable ways of everyday life.
Those times were not often. On more than a few occasions, when writing for other publications, I would file something that would have to be held because another cop killed an unarmed black person, or another group of people were attacked simply because they believed in something different than their attackers. The fact is, there was very little room for good news even though it was a year we needed it the most.
And so, next year, regardless of the way this world turns I’m going to write more about the direction I’m going in. I am blessed with a full cup of love that comes from friends, family, Gina and God. Not everyday is great, and I’m sure those days will be the easiest for me to write about, but in 2016, I want to help people find their smile. Being woke doesn’t have to be about being cynical. I’m alive and aware enough to feel the things that hurt us the most, but in a year where I probably wrote the least amount of words, I figured out exactly what type of writer I am or at least what type of writer I want to be and I realized the type of writer I’m not. I’m very privileged that I can say some of the best writers of these times are friends of mine and writers I’ve admired. Hell you’re probably already reading them yourself (at least I hope you are), but I hope you read me too, even if it’s not in line with current events. I have to be true to the writer I am, that’s the only way I can actually do this and I believe that if I do it right, my purpose will make sense to you, the reader.
We owe it to ourselves to be as happy as we can as often as we can, to let love pour into us even if it’s only a sip. I’m not promising all good news, like the goal here is to have you finish every post with a smile on your face. I’m just saying, I think it’s time to let some love off my chest.
Inspiration for this post courtesy of Phony Ppl’s “why iii love the moon”