REFLECTION AS INSPIRATION by memoir magazine founder, mARY MCBETH
As a writer, activist, and woman of color, I created Memoir Magazine to foster more empathy for the women of color experience, particularly African-American Women. I wanted to create a place where our stories could make the most impact in society at large, where people everywhere could experience more of the rich tapestry of our lives, our hearts and minds, as well as the vital roles we continue to play in the cultural collective of this nation. After all, nothing fosters empathy like a walk in another person's shoes, and memoir offers that opportunity.
I knew that we, as women of color writers, needed a literary magazine that would fairly consider our reality in the wider literary landscape, and I wanted to create a safe space for us to tell our stories, without judgment, because I know the power of writing to heal the writer as well as the reader.
"WE HAVE BEEN YOKED BY THE NOTION THAT WE MUST PRESENT OURSELVES AS CLEAN AND GOOD AND PERFECT TO BE ACCEPTED—INSTEAD OF THE BEING OURSELVES, BEING REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL PERSONALITY FLAWS, REAL ILLNESSES, REAL EMOTION, REAL NEEDS, ALL OF WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO THE REAL BEAUTY WE HOLD INSIDE OF US."
For example, writing ushered me through much of my challenges with perfection and acknowledging the pressure put upon us to be perfect. My father used to tell me that I had to be twice as good as everybody else to get anywhere in America. He was right of course, but a side affect of what I call the “walk it off” belief is that, just like society at large, I too began to discount my own emotions. For far too long, we have been yoked by the notion that we must present ourselves as clean and good and perfect to be accepted—instead of the being ourselves, being real people with real personality flaws, real illnesses, real emotion, real needs, all of which contribute to the real beauty we hold inside of us.
We writers are charged with churning this notion into dust. Not only does this idea of perfection create obstacles to good writing, but also it is a kind of (often tragically self imposed) abuse to our intelligent women ancestors. By adhering to oppressive standards of perfection, we are silencing the stories and struggles of our ancestors, maintaining a status quo where we are expected to be and stay silent about our realities—at the cost of ourselves and society in general.
We can stay silent no longer. We cannot leave our feelings and valuable self-reflections out of our narratives.
With Memoir Magazine, I want to contribute to a world in which every woman of color feels like an integral valued part for society and has greater empathy for herself, by fostering an environment for more vital emotional truth-telling in our work and the healing that comes from laying our collective burdens down.
MEMOIR MAGAZINE IS CURRENTLY TAKING SUBMISSIONS! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE: mEMOIR MAGAZINE sUBMISSIONS
review of dr. nnedi okorafor's binti
Kitchen Table Literary Arts covers book experiences, book recommendations, publishing and writerly news, and other randomly beautiful, provocative things that inspire us! We also feature guest bloggers! Wanna write for us? Shout us out!