Alumni News

Jenkins on writing while Black

MFAW alum Morgan Jerkins published an essay in Lit Hub 'on cliche, stereotype, and the struggle to describe Blackness'.

If I wrote Vivienne as a light-skinned black woman, like me, would I be reinforcing white supremacist beauty standards, subconsciously making it easier for a white reader to sympathize with the character because of skin color? But if I made Vivienne darker skinned, would I be operating out of fear of criticism from the African-American community? The written beauty of a character is political, even more so for a black woman in prose who, as a character, has traditionally existed in the margins. In the American imagination the black woman, whether light skinned or dark, is already a sexualized entity, a character upon which so many stereotypes are projected. But as a black woman writing these characters, I need to write beyond the stereotypes, expose their idiocy one page at a time."