A Gwendolyn Brooks poem on Library Walk in New York City.

Black female wordsmiths and composers cultivate true understanding through their literature. Their writing places you inside of a train, taxi, or spaceship touring the world as it really is, showing us a clear-cut story of the Black experience through variations in chromaticity, gender, and class. Tyranny, inequity, and bigotry often leave Black women questioning their permanence, appearance, pertinence, affinity, and deference. 

Reading stories written by Black female writers lets me know that I’m not alone in my thoughts: Am I hideous? Would it be easier to survive if I was pale? Would I get less hate If I was a size one? Would it have been better if my mother had mixed babies? Should I hate white people? If I was rich, would I be treated like a human? If I was born a man, would I gain respect? 

Toni Morrison speaking at "A Tribute to Chinua Achebe - 50 Years Anniversary of 'Things Fall Apart'". The Town Hall, New York City, February 26th, 2008. Photo by Angela Radulescu. CC BY-SA 2.0

Black female writers like Toni Morrison channel their aching into their writing, creating a community of understanding out of their experience. Morrison used her experiences as a Black woman to write and publish books like The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Paradise. By expressing Black narratives so potently, she earned the Nobel Prize In Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and many other accolades. Her story is a powerful depiction of how Black women are able to change the world, even with the odds stacked against them. 

Another example is Gwendolyn Brooks, a Black female writer coping with the same emotions. Driven by false narratives and propaganda during the 1950s, she turned her Black grief into masterful poems like “Song of Winnie”, “We Real Cool”, and “The Rites for Cousin Vit”. By transforming mundane aspects of Black experience into powerful art, she was one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, becoming the national Poet Laureate. She was able to showcase Black experiences and present them in a compelling medium, creating empathy and resonance in her audience. 

Lorraine Hansberry was another Black writer that ingested these expressions about herself and transformed them into powerful works. While white society championed a derogatory, stereotypical approach to Blackness, with A Raisin in the Sun, she became the first Black woman to have her play performed on Broadway. A Raisin in the Sun earned nine Tony Award nominations and two wins, and later, Lorraine received The New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play of 1969. Her plays were able to take others on a journey of Black existence, regardless of the viewer’s background. 

A Raisin in the Sun is a critically-acclaimed play by Lorraine Hansberry.

Black female writers like these, having such a rich historical legacy and notoriety, give me the luxury to applaud their accomplishments despite their struggles. As Black women, they survived so much rancor and horror in their careers — lashed by trauma, hung by others’ opinions, and having to pick the cotton of the so-called white ‘superiors’. But the accomplishments of these women have cultivated a place for us, bringing Black empowerment through words and ink.

Anyla aspires to become a poet, short story writer, and essayist speaking about racism against Black people, current world problems, and hot topics. When she writes, she does it with purpose and passion. Anyla feels destined to touch others with her words, and wants to be known as someone who takes a stand and impacts lives with her writing.