In an art course I took in college, my professor began the day by informally quizzing the class about the previous week’s discussion. A student I’d recently met chatted with me before the unofficial test began. When the professor posed a question to the class that I’d confidently answered to my new acquaintance a few seconds prior, she casually turned to me and nudged me in a soft voice, saying, “And that’s where you come in.” Um…well. Not really.
I knew the answer, but that didn’t mean I was prepared to say it out loud, allowing the entire class a chance to turn and gawk at me. What if my response was wrong? What if I stumbled over my words? What if my voice quivered? What if, what if, what if? Amidst all these variables, I knew one thing was certain—I was not answering that question. Sitting in silence worked just fine for me thankyouverymuch, and the up close and personal spotlight that would temporarily shine on me (and my response) was absolutely not welcomed. A couple of awkward moments passed until someone who was confident and vocal gave a correct answer and averted my classmate’s confused, glaring eye away from me.
As much as it sucks to admit, treating my voice as an active entity instead of a paralyzed bystander still basically describes the way I operate to this day. In my writing and many of my social interactions, I’m still that unassertive college kid who has something meaningful to say but refuses to verbalize it out of insecurity, fear, and an endless list of other irrational reasons. The worst realization is that I’m a hypocrite who exhibits more compassion for others than I do for myself, specifically when I advise close friends and relatives to let their opinions venture freely while I routinely censor my own.
Enter Un-edited. This platform represents a scary new phase in which I speak freely, unfiltered and uninhibited, avoiding the temptation to drown my words with questions and insecurities that only serve to distract me from my purpose.
So, here’s my first Un-edited statement: I am a voice in this world and dammit, I deserve to be heard. OK, I’m busted. That line was inspired by way too many binge-watching sessions of A Different World on Netflix, plus a couple of glasses of 20 Grand’s vodka and rosé drink (more on that later).
Still, it’s a fitting visionary summation of what my Un-edited partner Andrea and I hope to achieve with the words we publish in this space. I, along with the stifled voices of women everywhere, deserve to be heard and my wish is that through Un-edited, the blockages that stand defiantly between my feelings and my pen dissolve and make way for a black woman who no longer quivers at the idea of sharing her innermost thoughts with the world.