As first posted on feministbookclub.com
Stacey Abrams, the Queen of our times!
You may know of Stacey Abrams as one of the gubernatorial candidates for Georgia back in 2018. She came to fame because she was the first Black woman to run in the state. She refused to concede and accused Brian Kemp of flagrant voter suppression. She is also one of the few Black women candidates to run for governor in the south as successful as she was.
Abrams may have lost in 2018, but she stayed winning, turning her loss into a movement to end voter suppression and fight for voting rights in Georgia and beyond. This year, she is running for governor again. All I have to say is that she better win.
Stacey Abrams, the author
Abrams’s claim to fame may have been in politics, but did you know she is a very experienced author? She has published three novels, two nonfiction (Our Time Is Now and Lead from the Outside a previous FBC book!), one legal thriller (While Justice Sleeps), and one children’s book (Stacey’s Extraordinary Words).
But the real excitement is that she has published eight romance novels! If you didn’t know, it’s because she published them under the pen name Selena Montgomery.
You would probably look at someone as respected and renowned as Stacey Abrams and think she couldn’t possibly write racy, raunchy, romances.
Black women just want to be themselves
Now, I don’t want to presume, but I believe Abrams chose to write her romance novels under a pen name for the same reason I would choose to write a romance novel under a pen name. Black women have it incredibly hard.
By that, I mean the constant scrutiny Black women are under. Black women are either portrayed as the ratchet, ghetto, baby mama, loud and living off the state, or we are seen as the pious, asexual, strong savior here to clean the world’s mess. The images of Black women have grown and expanded over the years, but we still have a hard time wrapping our head around someone like Stacey Abrams being able to write eight romance novels.
Stacey Abrams has to keep up the image of respectability to be taken seriously as a lawyer and politician. Respectability says that good girls don’t talk about sex or express their desires in such an open way. Respectability says creativity shouldn’t be mixed with professionalism. Respectability says if you want to be a leader among your race, you must be an obedient and quiet participant in the game.
Black women have an especially precarious relationship with respectability. White people police our self-expression in order not to seem like the “angry Black woman”, and Black men and patriarchy police it to not be too dominant in order not to emasculate them. Black women must compromise so much of our own liberation to live another day to fight for the liberation of everyone else.
The multiplicity of Black women
To me, it seems as if it would be easier for Stacey Abrams to keep those two parts of her lives separate. It wasn’t until she became more established in her career that she disclosed her stint as a romance novelist.
What I love most about Stacey Abrams is that she shows us the duality of creative expression and unwavering leadership. She is the embodiment of the multiplicity of Black women.