Look, I never hide the fact that I’m curious by nature. If I have questions, I need answers. Last night, my question was, “I wonder what people think about my essay?” My answer: to read the comments section.
I bet I won’t do that again.
Let me give a little back story. Yesterday, a pitch I sent to The Huffington Post got accepted and published. Yay! New writing credit! It was a big deal for me, and I was beyond excited to share my personal essay about my identity as a Black Hispanic and the questions it’s raised in others (you can read the long version here). In a nutshell, I have always identified as a Black Hispanic, because, you know, I am. But to some I am only Black. To others I am not Black enough. And still to others, I must be anything but Black. That’s it. That’s the premise. I shared a couple of true stories about the issue and how it has and has not affected me.
Being an excited little girl and not the 32-year-old woman I really am, I watched the comments grow. However, as a writer, I know the golden rule of reader comments: Don’t read them. Trolls, ignorance, and complete misunderstandings linger in those parts. Being an avid reader of comments on other articles, I know this. Comments sections are brutal. Writers and other readers can get straight up massacred. So why the hell was I so eager to read mine?
Clearly, I’m a glutton for punishment LOL.
I have to laugh, truly, I do. I saw exactly what I expected. Some comments offered support and understanding. Some didn’t understand the language. One asked me, “Dude- what’s your issue?” I had another one basically tell me I’m one of “those Blacks” who has claim another race or ethnicity because being Black isn’t good enough. I even had one tell me I needed to educate myself on race and ethnicity (I have, by the way. It’s one of the reasons I wrote the essay).
The fact of the matter is simple: I stand by my words. I stand by my ethnicity. And I also stand by my choice to read the comments to my essay. Was it a stupid move? Absolutely. However stupid, though, it taught me one thing: If I wasn’t an official writer before, I damn sure am now.