Facing Hate with Style and Strength

Staying Sane Collage

Description of photos in collage:

  • Books read to Zombie at his Story Time or while waiting to catch the bus.
  • Drawings in a homemade sketchbook.
  • A journal entry from a diary I write in daily.
  • A coloring page from an adult coloring book.
  • A cardboard roll wall or table collage.
  • My cat Zombie.
  • A sweater and scarf by Uniqlo.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.—Jane Austen

The day I got my MA in Fashion Journalism from Academy Of Art University I had visions of taking my new knowledge and skills, and working, either at Vogue as an editor, teaching a series of personal style classes for the main stream at a community college, or writing, reliable fashion books for the consumer.

Unfortunately, these plans had to be placed on the back burner, momentarily, due to my mothers passing, and the increasing complications and obstacles caused by my SLE, lupus disability and constant exposure to COVID-19 on my day job in education for a major school district.

With the sadness of my mother’s death, unforeseen emotional, and financial difficulties also forced me to remain in education, despite its low pay, insufficient hours, and growing abusive treatment expressed by those adversely affected by their low-income status and Covid-19.

It didn’t matter that I was an alumni of this district, starting with the third grade and ending with my high school graduation, that I grew up mostly in the areas that I worked in or am an African-American, the “world of hate” I existed in then when I tried to give back to my community would’ve overwhelmed and destroyed me if I didn’t keep my perspective.

Of course I knew I was breaking stereotypical rules by succeeding in school and having the gall to write professionally, but I was unaware of how offensive it was to some until it was thrown in my face with such vitriol. All because I dared to break through and smash those outdated tropes to realize my vision.

One of the most obvious ways I did, this was by dressing very stylishly, in clothes and accessories that reminded me, and those I encountered, that I am a fashion journalist first who communicates sartorially and isn’t inferior to anyone despite the circumstances, and a regular employee second.

The other way, I did this was by ratcheting up the creative side I’d learned to cultivate at AAU by writing blogs, reviews and articles regularly, and becoming crafty by drawing, painting, and constructing collages that expressed who I am.

I even introduced introduced my art to the schools I’ve worked in during this tumultuous period. Now that I’m on the other side of the battle, I can honestly say it kept me sane and help me keep on keeping on.