Black Women, Creativity and Death: Rethinking My Old Ideas

A few years ago I wrote a post about Ms. Kathleen Collins, and how Black women who run from their genius may make themselves sick.

I don’t think that I agree with that anymore.

In fact I have become more invested in thinking about and working my way through how Black women create in the face of sickness, illness and death.

Right now, three Black women I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE are catching health hell. Like in the hospital, chemotherapy, in the house recovering from surgery, invitro hell.

And I am terrified because I know we die early.

Kathleen Collins.

June Jordan.

Audre Lorde.

Toni Cade Bambara.

Stephanie Camp.

Karyn Washington.

Titi Branch.

Thea St. Omer.

And on, and on and fucking on.

So everyday I am thinking about the best way to be a sister friend to them, to check on them, to see where their head is at, to see how they are functioning, to offer what I have the bandwidth to offer that day and be cool with it.

You see, if you know me afk, you know that I will talk over you and interrupt you 20 times in a conversation. But, I am also a healer, and maybe one of the best listeners you will ever meet. I pay attention to myself, which gives me space to pay attention to others.

With that being said, I am not sure if running from our genius makes us sick. I think that being Black, and girl, in a culture that is premised on the hatred of both Black people and women may be what makes us sick.

Now, do I think that there is a consequence for running away from that creative spark?


But power maps onto the bodies of Black women in very clear ways. In ways that kill us, and folks will be asking “Oh what happened to so and so, she just up and died?” As if it weren’t a pattern.

I think I am coming to the conclusion that in life,  death is always just right there, and it is the work to figure out HOW to do the work despite that dark lurker.

Do you think about the conditions under which Black women create art?

Who is your current favorite Black woman artist and why?


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