How do you feel about creating something like this that’s going to be available for so many women?
I’m happy about it, and I think I’ll be happier when I can actually experience some of those reactions personally. A lot of people found out about my artwork and my book because of Twitter; when I first released it and people would order it, they would tweet me and say, “This is so beautiful.” The original version didn’t have any words, so they didn’t know anything about the writing, but they were just like, “These are really beautiful images, and I’m really glad you did this, and I really appreciate the words that you do have.” So, I feel good about it, and I hope that it helps somebody out there. Somebody can see something of themselves and their place in the world because of my artwork. I hope it helps.
Little black girls are super, super close to my heart, and I’ve thought about that. I’ve called it an adult coloring book, but it’s not like its images are erotic or anything. It’s just that parents are going to be buying this, and, you know, there are naked women in there. There’s a vagina in there, there’s a gun in there, there are cuss words in there. I want you to be aware that the book was made with love—it’s a love letter to you from me, but also to myself. I want you to know that there are things in here that, if you’re going to buy for a child, you should explain or just guide them in their exploring because kids can be sensitive to stuff. Children don’t receive things in the parable or the appropriate way that adults do, which is really good, but they also are really sensitive to stuff, so I just want you to be aware of what’s happening it it.
What does afro-feminism mean to you?
I did not give it that name. The first article that was written about the book was on Blavity
, and they called it an afro-feminist coloring book. From that point on, any publication that wrote a story about it, they kind of ran with that. When it came time for us to choose the title and stuff, we went through a couple different suggestions. It seemed like even though I didn’t give it that name, people read it and automatically had an idea in their head of what it was. I don’t feel like it’s an ill-fitted name, it’s just not something that I intentionally gave to it.
When I think of “afro,” obviously, the first thing that comes to mind would be, like, hairstyle, natural hair, etc. But “afro” is also a prefix in front of different ethnicities and nationalities, like when you’re describing someone who’s from the African diaspora. I think that’s really cool because a few years ago, I was reading excerpts from this Sun Ra book of collected poetry and prose. There’s this one article in there that talks about the liberation of language and how when you break words down into little parts… Like, the word “return.” If you break “re” apart from “turn,” it doesn’t make that prefix “re” half of an idea. “Re” can go in front of anything and make a billion other combinations. I guess, that’s the reason I think it’s cool, because “afro” can be an idea on its own, but it can also make a billion combinations, and I think that’s really metaphorically cool for humans, in general, for identities.
I’ve never really actually called myself a feminist. Not because I don’t like the word, but I have some reservations about it. I have lots of ideals in actions—the way I carry myself, the things that I talk about, the way I treat people are feminist. Or, I’m actually more partial to “womanist,” to be quite honest.