VQR: The Price of Black Ambition

October 7, 2014

“I am thinking about success, ambition, and blackness and how breaking through while black is tempered by so much burden. Nothing exemplifies black success and ambition like Black History Month, a celebratory month I’ve come to dread as a time when people take an uncanny interest in sharing black-history facts with me to show how they are not racist. It’s the month where we segregate some of history’s most significant contributors into black history instead of fully integrating them into American history. Each February, we hold up civil-rights heroes and the black innovators and writers and artists who have made so much possible for this generation. We say, look at what the best of us have achieved. We conjure W. E. B. Du Bois, who once wrote, ‘The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.’ We ask much of our exceptional men and women. We must be exceptional if we are to be anything at all.”

— Roxanne Gay in The Price of Black Ambition for VQR. This essay is on point and deeply moving; I was in tears. But then I pulled it together and did something I’ve been meaning to do since August: went to Amazon and bought Gay’s book Bad Feminist because I need more of her in my life.

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