The aim of Our Black is to create a book comprised of narratives on the Black Experience and the multiplicity of Blackness. The goal of Our Black is to build a collection of narratives that reflect the diverse experiences of Black folk, one which could be used to better understand the complexity, depth, and challenges of Being and living Black.
We are interested in short and long pieces. Documents should be formatted for readability. Please use 12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced. Also include a single-paragraph bio (up to 80 words). You are welcome to include your website link.
- Submit one autobiographical essay or first person creative nonfiction(essays/memoirs) in one document. Length of each piece should be between 325 and 650 words, give or take.
One submission per theme, please. Simultaneous submissions are OK as long as you notify us which essay belongs to what theme.
The book Our Black will be divided into these thematic chapters:
Acceptance and Ambiguous Blackness: Multi-Racial Identity in America
- This chapter calls for narratives by individuals who have struggled with a multi-ethnic/multi-racial identity in respect to a Blackness that must be justified, validated, explained, defended, and constantly proven. “Acceptance” can apply to both self-acceptance and peer-acceptance: trying to decide where you fit in, and dealing with others determined to decide for you.
-In what ways has the complexity of your ethnic/racial make-up influenced your personal identity?
-In what ways has it influenced the degree to which others have accepted or excluded you?
Be A Man: The Burden of Black Masculinity
- Theories on what it means to be a “real man” have permeated the fibers of our society, dictating how men act, think, and treat other men, as well as women.Its constraints are even more prevalent within the Black community, having plagued men and boys via predetermined notions of manliness derived from Black stereotypes and archetypes. Some would even call it a burden.
-Discuss how perceptions of masculinity have affected your life as a Black man. What struggles, if any, have you faced as a result of it?
-What does Black masculinity mean to you?
-What constitutes manliness?
-How does this transcend your experience and affect the Black community as a whole?
Binary Minorities: Being Both Black and LGBTQ(IA)
- Black LGBTQ individuals in America may find themselves in a double minority, where they are neither fully accepted or understood by mainly white LGBT communities, nor are they fully accepted in the Black community. The discrimination, bigotry and violence threatening the well being of Black LGBTQ people affects their lives in a multitude of ways. This chapter focuses on the challenges of being both Black and LGBTQ in America.
-What discrimination have you faced for being Black and LGBTQ?
-Discuss how perceptions of gender and sexual orientation have affected your life. What struggles, if any, have you faced as a result of it?
Never Black Enough: Outside the Scope of “Legitimate” Blackness
“Black people don’t do that.” and “You act white” are phrases we may have heard used or had hurled at some point in time for behaving outside a strictly defined notion of Blackness. Many have narrow definitions of what it means to be Black, and those that fall outside of that scope aren’t being Black “enough”. Yet, Blackness has always been diverse and complex. Contrary to popular belief there is no wrong or right way to be Black.
-Have you been ostracized for your individualized notion of Blackness?-What challenges and opposition have you faced for being outside the scope of “legitimate” Blackness?
The Intersection of Gender and Race: Being a Black Woman in America
- Being both Black and female in America lends itself to a particular set of experiences characterized by the compounded effects of the adversity resulting from both one’s race and gender. For these submissions write about your personal experiences as a Black woman in this country and/or address any of the following:
-The pressure to defy stereotypes particular to Black women
-Our media portrayal (for example: reality television) and our resulting popular perception
-The impossibility of living up to Eurocentric standards of beauty
-The victimization and subsequent silencing of Black women (violence and harassment)
-Feeling misunderstood by non-Blacks and unwanted/disrespected by Black men
Not Quite African-American: Black Immigrants and First generation Americans
- Immigrants as well as the children of first-generation parents tell a different tale of the Black experience in America. This chapter comprises the narratives of direct members of the African Diaspora, whose lack of bloodline in America—i.e. no ties to American slavery and the Civil Rights Movement—to some, render them not quite African American.
-Those of direct African, Caribbean, or any other international Black descent are African American by definition, but do not descended from Blacks that have been in America for centuries, has the lack of direct ties to the United States ever left you feeling distant from other Blacks?
-Have you struggled assimilating to or balancing both Black culture in America and your native land’s culture?
Black Self Identity: How Much is Blackness Defined by Whiteness?
- In many ways, one’s sense of Blackness is influenced by our society’s ever-present whiteness? You may address any of the following questions in your narrative:
-When did you realize you were Black; are there specific childhood experiences that led to your sense of racial awareness and cultural consciousness? When did you recognize the consequences and significance of the shade of your skin?
-How are your thoughts/actions influenced by your constant awareness of the white gaze? Have you experienced the pressure of feeling like your actions are a reflection of the entire black race, and therefore feeling as though you must defy Black stereotypes so as to prove to non-Blacks the diversity of Blackness?
-Describe the circumstances under which you find yourself “code switching” in regard to your mannerisms/speech around Blacks and non-Blacks.
-What situations have forced you to wonder, “Is it because I’m Black”?
What We’re Looking For
The most effective narratives will: leave the audience feeling personally affected, specifically depict your experience(s), and/or teach the reader something significant about what it’s like to be your Black individually…and ultimately the entire compilation will portray Our Black collectively. When writing your account, include your feelings during and after the incident(s) you’ve described. Add dialogue if necessary, include descriptive details, whatever it takes to relay its significance to the reader. To get a sense of how specific, personal, and reflective we’d like your narratives to be, please check out http://black-culture.com/black-self-identity/ and the subsequent comments.
Selected authors will receive a contributor copy of the e-book. Authors will be recognized on the Acknowledgement page. Authors who submit short bio will have it included on the About the Authors page.
By agreeing to appear in this anthology you transfer to publishers of Our Black the exclusive right to be the publisher of the work in English, in both print and electronic formats, including online.
Ready to send us your best work?
We will be accepting submissions until March 1, 2014. Submit queries through the contact form or contact directly at OurBlackProject[@]gmail.com. In the subject, specify which theme(s) the attached essay(s) cover.
We are extremely excited for your participation and involvement.
-Our Black Project Team