I’m about three and a half years into writing this blog. Every single Saturday, I’ve been attempting to think about the random sporadic thoughts I have about my life. Some of those takes have aged well, others have not and I find asinine and uninformed. But the reason why I just have left things up is that frankly, I think I’d rather be transparent and honest with those I’m community with about how I’ve gotten to where I am. Forget me a year ago, me even six to seven months ago was at a whole other level of confusion and contradictions.
Somehow this week, and this happens maybe once a year, I keep asking myself why am I writing? And frankly, I don’t just even mean in the sense of the blog, where I try to honestly reflect for myself on the world. I want to ask myself why am I writing at all? I remember when I was originally writing into a void of sorts, with almost no one seeing my ideas outside of close friends and family. I felt more comfortable to both be extremely vulnerable and be more willing to test out new theories about my existence, about my purpose.
But 42 plus months writing weekly, to a wider audience for no reason other than time and my tweets, I find myself just questioning where any of this leads to? By now, I’ve matured like many other folks I am in community with who realize that no amount of exposure to anti-Black violence or even political education will be the reason to change the material conditions for poor and working-class Black people. I’m aware that no amount of reading I do, writing I put to paper will change things.
For a while, much of how I understood the world was solely under the basis that I could convince people if I was a strong enough writer, to support the well-being of Black people everywhere. I thought about all the different ways I could pick up new writing skills, strategies, or just keep writing until folks would begin to change their behaviors. My high school and early college self was naive, sure, but also too optimistic about the wrong things. That again isn’t necessarily to say that we can’t and shouldn’t work to help those we care about grow politically; it’s to simply be honest that if someone is firmly set in their positions, abandoning our principles to seek to appease particularly those in power is futile.
I’ll let Joshua Briond, who put it more succinctly than I could, describe that sentiment when he was organizing during the first wave of BLM protests a few years ago:
I think the reason why I think this blog continues to work for me has been that I’ve centered it fundamentally around my personal reflections and ideological growth. It never was about convincing anyone to believe what I believe in, but rather to convince myself that this practice of self-criticism was necessary for wherever I would end up. I don’t think that I may have been able to fulfill this completely, and I know I’ve asked rhetorical questions like “What will it take for folks to care?”, but that’s never been the goal here. In my journalism and reporting, I’ve abandoned this entirely. I’m not making appeals; I’m doing my best to represent my perspective, ideologies, and accurately tell the stories I care about. If folks feel compelled or interested by those arguments, that is great! But I can only point people towards resources or thorough organizing or supporting people materially if they want to do things. The writing itself may give insights, but it singlehandedly cannot change things alone.
Whenever I think about what writing weekly has given me, the most important point has been its ability to allow me to be accountable for my words and actions. I’m my harshest critic because I don’t know how else to continue to grow. So, for now, this will continue to be the weekly ritual that I’ll return to every Saturday. I’ll continue to be here, be vulnerable to whatever extent I feel, and if you wanna come read and be along for the ride, you’re welcome to tune in.
Being Noah Tesfaye #179: Asking Myself Again Why I Write
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