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I Will No Longer Defend My Choice To Write About Black Women

Cosmopolitan | Tracy Oliver   in  · · ·
February 25, 2016

Tracy Oliver is a 30-year-old screenwriter who has written for the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the Starz show Survivor’s Remorse. She co-wrote the upcoming movie Barbershop: The Next Cut with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, and has several projects, including two movies with Universal and a Misty Copeland series with Fox, in development. She got her BA from Stanford University in 2008 and her MFA from the University of Southern California in 2010.

“Why do you feel the need to write black characters so often?” she asked, leaving the all-too-familiar question, on its surface friendly enough in tone, hanging in the air like a fetid accusation.

“I’m sorry, do you ask white writers that?”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth and this woman turned beet red in the face, I realized I had just changed the tone of the meeting. The “nice to meet you” smiles and pleasantries fell away, shit had just gone from 0 to 100. Real quick. Honestly, I’d surprised myself by going there. It’s not like she was the first person to ask me that question. It’s not like I came in there with the intention of telling this woman about herself. I really hadn’t planned on coming to this meeting and taking my metaphorical hoop earrings off. I guess something in me just … snapped. I was angry at the absurdity of her question, the audacity of her question, but mostly, angry that she was totally oblivious to how and why her question was so offensive in the first place.


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