Just a Note—
This comes from a place of love. I’ve received comments about the tone of anger in my writing. While this may be well-intentioned, I don’t like this.
Tone policing is “a tactic of criticizing a person for expressing emotion.” Right now, I am extremely frustrated with the current state of America, coupled with what I have experienced. I am sad. My frustration is valid. There is strength in saying that without adding “I will be okay.” As that sadness may sometimes be expressed by anger, it is still my right to feel my own feelings. I will move through this in the best way I see fit and have a dope Black therapist who holds me accountable in my healing. I may stumble and make mistakes but this is my journey.
I am on my way.
If I sat here and wrote positivity blog pieces, my expectation is that someone would shake me and tell me that I need to feel my feelings, so that when I speak of my experience in say, 5 or 10 years, I am not crippled with depression. False positivity is irresponsible. No thank you. There is power in feeling your feelings exactly as it arises in your chest.
I want to heal so that I can plant beautiful flowers in my chest.
Less than three months ago, I wrote my story on my blog, which has been read by over 135,000 people and featured in U.S. mainstream media. I didn’t plan this. But I slapped my government name and photo on every single article and stood in my truth because this is my story.
This has been overwhelming because I continue to re-experience trauma. I ask that instead of tone policing, you seek to understand that few can actually feel the depth of what I experienced. As much as you try, you can never relate, but offer empathy and compassion. Do that instead.
My story has given a voice to those who were unheard within the Foreign Service and around the world; let others know they are not alone and that their experiences are valid. My blog was read in almost every country. I raised over $32,000 for my community. I made new friends from all over the world and listened to your stories. My name allows me entry in rooms that I never knew existed. With that, I use my platform to encourage others to grow, to think, and to have tough conversations. I touched people that I never knew existed from behind a computer screen. I learned I am a writer. This is my work and my journey.
And this was the catalyst for change.
Silence, false positivity, and inaction does not create impact. We tried this before and look where we are. You know what moves us forward? Your voice. Your strength. The ability to call the issue as it is and speak your truth. And you know what? The best compliment I’ve received is that my “generation is impatient.” Because we are. And we are better for it.
My blog is my own space to express my emotions, since its inception in April 2016. There’s no way I could be raised to be who I am and when I grow into myself, reconsider when asked. If you find the content too sad, or angry, ask yourself why you feel that way. If it is still too much for you, don’t read my blog. It’s that easy. I reread my writing and carefully think through my sentence structures and concept before I click submit.
And it is not the job of an artist to explain their art.
I am a writer, an artist. My writing is unfiltered; it is raw, vulnerable, emotional, deep, and thought provoking. This is my intention. This is who I am.
I encourage you to look within. What have you not examined and healed? I write as a method of healing, a way of expressing myself and releasing emotion. This is what writers do. I hope you have a method that works for you. For those worried I am ruining my future career, do you think that now (knowing what I know, having had this experience, and feeling what I feel)- I could work organization that I don’t believe in? Don’t you think that there is an organization who would love to hire me because of this?
It is time to grow. Be the change. Our country is here because at our core, we have not healed.
Once I come out of my funk, I will create something beautiful. But one can argue that I already have.
And that is the beauty in this.
If my future employer is reading this, hello. I hope you know my experiences give me a depth of understanding and compassion, a commitment towards inclusivity, and strong conviction that cannot be described on a one-page resume. This makes me an invaluable candidate and you need people like me at your organization. As you know, the human experience is often messy, complicated, and inexplicable, but when we seek to learn why and heal, we become healthier.
We are better for it.
August 20, 2020. 5:02PM.
photo by Kennedi Carter
4 thoughts on “Just a Note-”
Tianna, I am a 69 year old white male American living in Texas. My heart sank when I first read your heartbreaking story this morning. I want to thank you for your bravery in speaking out. I experience you as just the kind of remarkable person our country needs right now and for the near future as we try to fix four hundred years of “wrong”. Be stout of heart … there is more support for you than you might realize.
May Our Lord Bless you and Keep you!
In total awe.
YES do not change your tone or your anger. Your anger is legitimate. People making those requests are scared and ashamed of the racism they hold inside themselves. I applaud you for standing up and telling your story because it takes so much courage. Stay strong and carry on warrior!!
I have just read and I am digesting your, “I Was a U.S. Diplomat. Customs and Border Protection Only Cared That I Was Black.” I lack words to express my emotions since I read the article about two hours ago. I was good that I was initially interrupted but I can now say as my initial reaction that I praise God for your life, and your resilience and maturity to take this route rather than sensationalism which may bring a flash in the pan reward but which may not go very far.
I am in a different part of the world but we are struggling against the same thing. I am writing a 12-chapter book, Social Darwinism, Circular Logic, and Dehumanisation in British Northern Nigeria and I am going to illustrate a point in Chapter Two with your article.
Please feel free to get in touch, at your convenience.
May I take the risk and convert liberty to license by ending this post by saying,
Your brother, uncle, praise singer, prayer partner (if you don’t belong to this bracket, just ignore it, but I will not stop praying for you).
Rev Olufemi Oluniyi, PhD
Centre for Values and Social Change
As a longtime personal blogger, I write for me. The posts I’ve written are really just my thoughts that I consider good enough for public consumption. I’ve had happy posts. I’ve had posts where the tone was confrontational and angry. But at the end of the day, it’s mine. I commend you for taking the time out and writing this post. It’s a reminder that what you write is inherently yours. Continue on doing your thing. Don’t worry about what others have to say.