Don’t Write Alone | Interviews

“I’m less interested in being a good writer than I am in being an honest writer”: A Conversation with Zeba Blay

“I think that knowing your voice is one thing, but standing by it is such an important part of being a writer.”

Zeba Blay has always been interested in the ways that popular media depicts Blackness. As the first person to coin the viral term #carefreeblackgirls on Twitter back in 2013, the film and culture critic has crafted an impressive body of work that focuses on how Black people exist both on screen and in real life.

Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women

Carefree Black Girls

Carefree Black Girls,

Tayo Bero: What made you decide that it was time to write this book?

TB: How would you describe your writing process?

TB: In the book, you hold a lot of grace for Black women when they make choices that some of us might see as problematic. Why was that important to you?

TB: You also wrote about how Black women often aren’t allowed space for anger, and the fullness of that specific emotion. How did it feel in that last section of the book when you were finally able to scream “fuck you” to the trolls?

TB: Switching gears a little bit to the chapter on girlhood, you talk about this idea of freedom. Where do you, as a Black girl, go to find freedom?

TB: You have a line in the book that says, “I’m no longer interested in writing in defense of myself,” and I think thats a sentiment thats really important. Have you felt, at any point in your career, that you were simultaneously having to do the job of being a writer, but also proving that you were worthy of doing that job?

TB: The book includes some of your struggles with mental health, and you’ve wondered openly what the point of baring your pain like this even is. How did you reckon with that question?

TB: There are certain images that have become associated with the idea of a #carefreeblackgirl; lighter skin, looser curls, able-bodied, etc. How did it feel for you to watch a term you coined be co-opted in that way?

TB: In your writing process, are there any writers who you look to, or who have helped shape the way that you express your ideas?


Village Voice