I am turning 30 in 30 days and to celebrate I… (drum roll please) launched a crowd sourced funding campaign. Womp womp womp.
Asking for money is hard. It is hard because of all the deep seated internalized messages around money and value. And especially in this moment, asking for money feels like my ego is being slapped in a particularly ruthless manner. Because I am a cash poor, no wealth having Black woman artist that likes to pretend that I am not a cash poor, no wealth having Black woman artist.
Did you play M*A*S*H as a kid? I did. My favorite mashable reality was when I had a husband, a huge house, a respectable amount of children (3-6) and LOTS of money. And as I watched my fortune scrawled out on line paper ripped from my composition notebook I just knew I would have these things by 30.
I will turn 30 in 30 days and not only was M*A*S*H very wrong about my husband (ha), my huge house, my children and my buttload of money, I am launching a campaign to ask people that I know (and people they know and people they know) for money to fund my artistic project. *Sigh* I failed. I must have made a huge mistake somewhere. Something over the last 20 years must have gone extremely wrong.
Or did it?
If I could go back to Ms. Zucal’s 4th grade class at Powell’s Lane elementary school, I would find that little Black girl named Monèt with the bright eyes and aaalll the answers and I would hold her face in my hands. First, I would tell her that she is glorious and brilliant and don’t let nobody tell her otherwise. Then I would tell her that there is no game of M*A*S*H that can predict the wondrous life she is about to have. I would tell her that she will not and does not have to have all the “adult things” by 30 and that most people don’t. I would tell her that the average single Black woman age 25-39 has a net worth of $0 and that while she is exceptional she will experience the consequences of systems that are centuries older than her. I would tell her not to be discouraged by that fact and to dream her big, audacious dreams anyway. I would tell her to ask for what she needs boldly because she deserves to have the desires of her heart. I would tell her that closed mouths don’t get fed and to take up all the space she needs. And then I would tell her that I have to go because people are waiting on me to make my work. And then I would whisper in her ear that she is queer and its ok that you have no idea what that means but you will and that your heart has room for much more than just a husband.
And now that I have returned from my time traveling mission I have this to say. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF MY ECONOMIC REALITY! I come from some of the hardest working, entrepreneurial, brilliant people in the history of human kind. I come from people who labored from sun up to sun down and then labored to bring new life into this world, all along building the wealth of a country that still stands and somehow still found time to sing and dance and smile. I come from people who can feed 20 people on a meal made for 4 or 5. I come from people who can turn rags into fashion, shacks into homes, violence into victory. I come from Black women.
I deserve to spend a year studying, researching, thinking, listening, asking, dreaming and talking about Black women and money. I deserve to hire Black women to do this work with me. I deserve to pay Black women artists to create something new. And we deserve to be paid while we do it.
I am turning 30 in 30 days. I am raising $30,000 for a project that explores the economic reality of Black women. And I am not ashamed of any of it.