Simply

Davelyn

15 Questions With M. G. Hughes

Introduction

If this is the first post you are reading from me, I would like to introduce you to the series.

G. D. Anderson said “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” 

This perception of strength she described is the reason I am creating this interview series.  Each article is structured to highlight the strengths, talents, and business pursuits of inspiring women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. 

Thank you for traveling around the world with me as we celebrate these women’s accomplishments.

M. G. Hughes

Today we are traveling to Southern California to talk with writer M. G. Hughes. She has two books in the works and in this article we discuss her writing, female equality, and more!

15 Questions With M. G. Hughes

Travel

Q. 1. What was it like growing up in Southern California? Was your childhood one that encouraged being creative?

I was born and raised in Oceanside, California. Oceanside is a coastal town located in San Diego County that neighbors the military base of Camp Pendleton. If I had to describe Oceanside with two words it would be diverse and old school. Although in the past ten years (and especially the last five) there’s been a lot of building developments for tourism many of the buildings which were built in the early or mid 20thcentury are still standing. So when driving through the downtown area, as a longtime resident, it’s sometimes strange (and personally disappointing) to see many of the old structures being changed or torn down to satisfy tourists. To give an example, where a fourth of a mile free parking lot that allowed for easy access to the beach used to be now stands a large beach resort that not only blocks out the ocean view from the backstreets but causes us locals to have to search a little longer for parking. As far as diverse—when walking through the streets of Oceanside you see all kinds of faces. Many of us locals are friendly as well and when combined with the slower, easygoing atmosphere there’s this consistent feeling of both the new and old. 

Travel

Growing up, I was always encouraged by many family members to express myself and chase after my creative endeavors. However my biggest influence when it came to creative writing and literature was my grandmother. Her name was Grace (Gracie) Lee Hughes. She worked as an educator from the time she graduated college to the time I graduated elementary school—because even after she officially  “retired” from teaching when I was much younger she continued mentoring me on her own. During the summertime she also took me to the library very frequently and always had me participating in reading groups and reading contests. She bought and let me check out books on everything from fiction to nature to animals (I think that’s also why I’m so interested in learning new things today); and many times I would end up leaving with entire stacks of books!

Q. 2. What inspires you to write?

To be honest, I really don’t know. When it comes to poetry I know the interest stems from the time I was little. But even then the exact root of it, and what that root is, I’d like to think is this natural need to translate what’s happening around me, what I feel, and what I think has yet to be talked about—in that way. Having a softer voice I think writing has also been another way for me to find my words during the times I feel like I can’t do as much justice when I speak. It’s still a problem for me. Sometimes, when I speak, I have to repeat myself because the other person didn’t catch what I said. 

As far as fiction, especially in the case with Blue Goes the Wind, it’s really this genuine need to get the story out of my head. It started off as an innocent idea—but once I really got into it I realized I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it unless I wrote it down and turned it into something.

Travel

Q. 3. I would also like to know what the journey has been like for you as a female writer. To some people reading that sentence, they might think that my question is unnecessary. And complain that women need to stop talking about equality because we “gained equality years ago.” While I am happy in being able to agree that, yes, we are fortunate to be able to write without having to use a fake male name to get published now, there is still room for improvement. Women still have to work doubly hard to prove themselves and be taken seriously. In regards to writing, if our work becomes popular, everyone is certainly happy to celebrate us and take part in our success. But on our way to success, I see a lot of women ridiculed for their work being something “only women would read” – as if that is a bad thing. And advised that we will “never be taken seriously by a real publisher.” Which is why I would like to know:

In your experience, what is it like being a female writer?

I absolutely love this question—and I thank you for asking it because it’s such an important conversation. I took a Women’s Art class a year ago where we studied the works, successes, and tribulations of women artists from the past and the present. Aside from this we were constantly tasked to analyze the impact of how the male gaze impacts, for the better or worse, his female subjects which he paints. It’s funny because I didn’t really think about that before—about how things such as positioning, eye contact (with the audience), and posture carry motives of their own—but after taking that class I was able to make this conclusion that the question isn’t necessarily why are is there male and female titles but how such a bar, a bar based on gender, continues to survive in accordance to the changing of the times and who exactly, be it subconscious or not, supports it. Biology (and maybe outdated bias) wants us to believe we are supposed to compare and contrast ourselves, as well as our academic or creative endeavors, based on our physical associations. So if you are a female storyteller you are supposedly more “in tune” with your emotions and the emotions of others. And if you are male storyteller you are supposedly, or most likely, the opposite of this and therefore not as capable of delivering the same artistic product, the same caliber, as that of a woman. This is where stereotypes, especially negative or belittling stereotypes, have a chance to grow. Depending on who is at the front of these discussions the narrative can switch from being a simple debate to a label, or a universal label, to a label which seeks to use words like “too feminine” or “surprisingly masculine” for a female artist as a way to discredit the product as a whole—even if the product did not necessarily ride on these themes of gender or feminism. 

Everything in art, naturally, I believe will always touch on gender because our art, of course, is an extension of ourselves. So we place ourselves in it, whatever that it is, and what we have in the end is something for someone else to see. And in a perfect world each and every one of us would be critiqued for what we have placed on ourown table. Not the table of another’s, or the table of an existing list of those in our likeminded industries, but a table where there would be no need to state the obvious because the delivery, the poem or the painting, will then matter more than the deliverer—us.

But, of course, being humans it is impossible for us to not do this—judge, assume, and hold opinion. And being a Black woman I actually believe it is a mistake to assume the earning of equality is the same as the knowing equality. Take the Jim Crow era for example. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed racism, subconscious bias, and (psychological) lynchings did not end. There were still White men and women who believed, and still believe, they are superior to Blacks and people of color simply because they are of European decent. And to this day these occurrences of discrimination, be it in the name of gender or race, or both, are still alive and well. They are alive in spaces that want token hires (someone with ambiguous or European favoring features) as oppose to someone of darker complexion. They are alive in spaces where the simple hiring of a Black person, a Black woman or man, is more important than providing equal pay and opportunity. They are alive in spaces where the presence of a Black person, a Black woman or man, or a person of color, is treated as something of a check-off rather than a necessity—a necessary voice. And they are alive in spaces where the writing off concepts such as colorism and racism is done in attempt to promote this ideology that these existences do not exist but are not, somehow, bound to the very foundation of this country. Not bound, or not tied, as if bias cannot be passed down the generations.

Q. 4. I’m excited that you have two books in the works. Can you tell us a little bit about your novel Blue Goes the Wind and your poetry collection I Only Have Marmalade?

Blue Goes the Wind is a Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Historical Drama novel. This year will mark three years of my journey with it. But I recently (February 2021) made the decision to set it aside so I can focus on my poetry collection I Only Have Marmalade. 

The making of IOHM was really the result of a long period of writer’s block. I thought writing poetry would allow me to get back in touch with BGTW. And once I had enough poems to make a book I realized I might as well try publishing it. 

As of now, IOHM is currently being reviewed by a publisher (I want to leave that last bit a surprise!) and I’m hoping to have some new news up on my Instagram as early as the summer.

Q. 5. A novel and a collection of poetry can be two very different writing styles and, thus, I feel like they are driven by dissimilar emotions. So I’m curious how you switch between the two. Do you structure your work days to write in one style specifically? Or do you write based upon what you feel passionate about that day?

That’s incredibly accurate. If I had to translate the feeling to someone who isn’t familiar with creative writing it would be just that: driving on the left side of the road and driving on the right side of the road. The transition is easier on same days than others. Then on other days switching from the voice of the main character of BGTW to poetry is like getting stuck in the middle of these two very different roads—and sinking into the ground below, while still in the car, as if it were quicksand. What’s difficult isn’t necessarily the writing mechanics (though it often is) but the difference of voice and atmosphere. When writing BGTW, I’m in its world and its entirely. When I’m writing poetry, I’m in my world or whatever world I’m trying to portray on a single page. So another difference is also the duration of these sessions. The longer I stay with poetry the more difficult it may prove for me to get used to writing fictionbecause the way I would attempt to describe something, like a building or a person, would be much different than how I would do so through poetry; and the longer I stay with fiction the harder it is for me to get used to simplifying a paragraph’s worth of description to a single stanza or a single sentence. 

Because of my recent decision to get IOHM out first the case has been much different. But when I was working on the two at the same time (throughout 2020) the previous was often the case: I was working on both simultaneously and setting boundaries between how long I would stay in either avenue.

Q. 6. What is one of your favorite books?

My favorite books include Walking With the Wind by John E. Lewis, Every Tongue Got to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston, and Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston. 

Q. 7. What is one of your favorite things to do in your free time?

I love gardening!!! And I love walking my German Shepherd and lounging at the beach. 🙂 

Q. 8. Publishing your own book is incredibly exciting, but also a difficult undertaking. Do you have an editor? Or are you planning to self publish? 

Yes! It’s both exciting and nerve wracking. Before this final draft (IOHM) there were two previous drafts. So to sort through the old pieces and see my progression as a writer has been eye opening. And because many of the poems in IOHM require me to dig deep into my experiences I’ve oddly found the entire process to be this continuous session of therapy. 

From my understanding there will be an editor reviewing IOHM. But the anticipation is actually more encouraging than anything else. Having worked at precious jobs as a marking associate, blog writer, and communications assistant I have a general idea of how editing and collaborating on these kinds of projects goes. And I think it’s because of this exposure that I feel more comfortable with feedback and critique. 

When I first started writing I was scared to show my stuff to my family!

Q. 9. What has your experience been like with finding a publisher (or print company if you are self publishing)?

Like a lot of writers the process is equally challenging and empowering. As my grandmother’s father used to say: “When there is a will, there is a way.” So even when the “way” didn’t show up I still believed I would find success because I had yet to exhaust myself of the options available to me. Of course, this doesn’t mean I was consistently optimistic—because there are still times I find myself in so bad of a funk that I don’t want to write or question why I write at all—but I guess I could get away with saying each time I felt depressed I eventually got back up because I knew I would feel worse about not trying at all. 

So it’s like that: if I’m going to feel down about something it might as well come from the result of trying, or succeeding, than this assumption of what would have happened had I kept working hard. 

Q. 10. What is something most people do not know about you? 

As much as I like going out, traveling, and meeting new people I’m very much an introvert. I like to be alone at the end of the day.

Q. 11. What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their dreams, but feel intimidated to promote themselves? 

That’s a tough one because I’m still having trouble overcoming this as well. But I guess I could say this: if you don’t do it (whatever it is) you’re going to fail—because you didn’t try. As women, especially Black women and women of color, we’re often told we can’t do it because of X and Y. If not because we’re a woman it’s because we’re an outspoken woman, or a too quiet woman, or a woman who has an opinion, or a woman who is her own boss, or a woman who takes pride in her aspirations, or a woman who isn’t afraid of trial and error, or a woman who isn’t afraid of labels. The point is that we’re going to be judged, as women or as a person who just so happens to identify as a woman, regardless of the good and the bad we do. 

…So why not try anyway? Just to see?

Q. 12. I know you have an avid interest in African and African-American folklore, so I would love to know what one of your favorite folklore stories is?

I love this question!!! There’s two actually that I remember to this day. The first is an African rooted moral story called The Son of the Wind. The second is this African-American moral story known as (at least in the book African-American Children’s Stories ) Good Blanche, Bad Rose, and the Magic Eggs. 

Both stories have slight differences depending on your source. So I would suggest to anyone interested in reading these stories to look them up (so you can get the full reading experience!)

Q. 13. In comparison to many countries, growing up in the United States is a blessing. And I feel very fortunate to get to enjoy freedoms won for us by the women who fought for us in the past. However, as I said before, there is still a long ways to go. A lot of crimes against women are swept under the rug. And in many respects our rights are spoken, but the actual upholding of them can become skewed. Can you share with us something that you would like to see improve for women?

Again, this is such a great question. Personally I believe there are many different avenues I can touch on here. On one hand there’s the issues we, as a whole, face collectively in some shape or form. However the reality is that the social setbacks Black women and women of color face are not always the same social setbacks White women face. The same goes for the difference of experiences between Black women, women of color, and women of mixed heritage. Then you have the impact things such as a colorism place upon our own ethnic groups. For example, being Black and Filipino I am nevertheless a minority—a Black woman. However because my features are more on the ambiguous side, and because my skin is on the lighter side, there are social privileges I and others have in the United States that have historically (and continue to) unfortunately allowed for more opportunity and acceptance in circles and institutions led by White men, and even White women, compared to those of darker complexion. Going back to your question, however, what I hope to see in my lifetime is more unapologetic and open conversation between American women, regardless of our backgrounds, on politics and race. Because that’s the thing—social media has allowed for us to connect and hold discussions. But is it always productive? Or purposeful? Or open-minded?Absolutely not.

Conversations lead to collaboration. And while I’m in no way trying to tell anyone what to do—because quite frankly I haven’t done much myself aside from writing—I do think the social pressure of the times have made many people, regardless of gender, think its better to stay quiet and keep to ourselves rather than voice our truth. Even if that truth is biased, even if that truth is supposedly politically incorrect, how can we possibly move forward if the majority of us are shutting up instead of reaching out? Or participating in (productive) discussions or workshops?

The most dangerous people, if you ask me, are those who treat those they hate or despise well because they know they have to. So instead of putting into the work to actually change their own opinion, to change their own life, they mask for the sake of not getting in trouble. So now—which is what we’re experiencing as a country, I think—we’re not only lying to ourselves but we’re lying to each other for the sake of pretending as if 2020 is that much different from 2021.

And it’s really not. As you said yourself—we still have a lot of work to do collectively. The solution is many solutions. But the solution is also all of us being more kind, more open, and more honest about the world we really want for ourselves and our communities.

Q. 14. Who are three women that inspire you? 

My mom (Marilyn Hughes), my grandmother, and my aunt (Lisa Hughes).

Q. 15. What is one of your favorite female empowerment quotes?

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” – Audre Lorde

Travel

Her books might not be published yet, but she still has a nice collection of poetry available to read – like what I shared in this post! You can see her instagram here. And her website is mghughesauthor.com.

Thank you for reading!

XO,

Mikéla

15 Questions With M. G. Hughes

Introduction

If this is the first post you are reading from me, I would like to introduce you to the series.

G. D. Anderson said “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” 

This perception of strength she described is the reason I am creating this interview series.  Each article is structured to highlight the strengths, talents, and business pursuits of inspiring women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and nationalities. 

Thank you for traveling around the world with me as we celebrate these women’s accomplishments.

M. G. Hughes

Today we are traveling to Southern California to talk with writer M. G. Hughes. She has two books in the works and in this article we discuss her writing, female equality, and more!

15 Questions With M. G. Hughes

Travel

Q. 1. What was it like growing up in Southern California? Was your childhood one that encouraged being creative?

I was born and raised in Oceanside, California. Oceanside is a coastal town located in San Diego County that neighbors the military base of Camp Pendleton. If I had to describe Oceanside with two words it would be diverse and old school. Although in the past ten years (and especially the last five) there’s been a lot of building developments for tourism many of the buildings which were built in the early or mid 20thcentury are still standing. So when driving through the downtown area, as a longtime resident, it’s sometimes strange (and personally disappointing) to see many of the old structures being changed or torn down to satisfy tourists. To give an example, where a fourth of a mile free parking lot that allowed for easy access to the beach used to be now stands a large beach resort that not only blocks out the ocean view from the backstreets but causes us locals to have to search a little longer for parking. As far as diverse—when walking through the streets of Oceanside you see all kinds of faces. Many of us locals are friendly as well and when combined with the slower, easygoing atmosphere there’s this consistent feeling of both the new and old. 

Travel

Growing up, I was always encouraged by many family members to express myself and chase after my creative endeavors. However my biggest influence when it came to creative writing and literature was my grandmother. Her name was Grace (Gracie) Lee Hughes. She worked as an educator from the time she graduated college to the time I graduated elementary school—because even after she officially  “retired” from teaching when I was much younger she continued mentoring me on her own. During the summertime she also took me to the library very frequently and always had me participating in reading groups and reading contests. She bought and let me check out books on everything from fiction to nature to animals (I think that’s also why I’m so interested in learning new things today); and many times I would end up leaving with entire stacks of books!

Q. 2. What inspires you to write?

To be honest, I really don’t know. When it comes to poetry I know the interest stems from the time I was little. But even then the exact root of it, and what that root is, I’d like to think is this natural need to translate what’s happening around me, what I feel, and what I think has yet to be talked about—in that way. Having a softer voice I think writing has also been another way for me to find my words during the times I feel like I can’t do as much justice when I speak. It’s still a problem for me. Sometimes, when I speak, I have to repeat myself because the other person didn’t catch what I said. 

As far as fiction, especially in the case with Blue Goes the Wind, it’s really this genuine need to get the story out of my head. It started off as an innocent idea—but once I really got into it I realized I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it unless I wrote it down and turned it into something.

Travel

Q. 3. I would also like to know what the journey has been like for you as a female writer. To some people reading that sentence, they might think that my question is unnecessary. And complain that women need to stop talking about equality because we “gained equality years ago.” While I am happy in being able to agree that, yes, we are fortunate to be able to write without having to use a fake male name to get published now, there is still room for improvement. Women still have to work doubly hard to prove themselves and be taken seriously. In regards to writing, if our work becomes popular, everyone is certainly happy to celebrate us and take part in our success. But on our way to success, I see a lot of women ridiculed for their work being something “only women would read” – as if that is a bad thing. And advised that we will “never be taken seriously by a real publisher.” Which is why I would like to know:

In your experience, what is it like being a female writer?

I absolutely love this question—and I thank you for asking it because it’s such an important conversation. I took a Women’s Art class a year ago where we studied the works, successes, and tribulations of women artists from the past and the present. Aside from this we were constantly tasked to analyze the impact of how the male gaze impacts, for the better or worse, his female subjects which he paints. It’s funny because I didn’t really think about that before—about how things such as positioning, eye contact (with the audience), and posture carry motives of their own—but after taking that class I was able to make this conclusion that the question isn’t necessarily why are is there male and female titles but how such a bar, a bar based on gender, continues to survive in accordance to the changing of the times and who exactly, be it subconscious or not, supports it. Biology (and maybe outdated bias) wants us to believe we are supposed to compare and contrast ourselves, as well as our academic or creative endeavors, based on our physical associations. So if you are a female storyteller you are supposedly more “in tune” with your emotions and the emotions of others. And if you are male storyteller you are supposedly, or most likely, the opposite of this and therefore not as capable of delivering the same artistic product, the same caliber, as that of a woman. This is where stereotypes, especially negative or belittling stereotypes, have a chance to grow. Depending on who is at the front of these discussions the narrative can switch from being a simple debate to a label, or a universal label, to a label which seeks to use words like “too feminine” or “surprisingly masculine” for a female artist as a way to discredit the product as a whole—even if the product did not necessarily ride on these themes of gender or feminism. 

Everything in art, naturally, I believe will always touch on gender because our art, of course, is an extension of ourselves. So we place ourselves in it, whatever that it is, and what we have in the end is something for someone else to see. And in a perfect world each and every one of us would be critiqued for what we have placed on ourown table. Not the table of another’s, or the table of an existing list of those in our likeminded industries, but a table where there would be no need to state the obvious because the delivery, the poem or the painting, will then matter more than the deliverer—us.

But, of course, being humans it is impossible for us to not do this—judge, assume, and hold opinion. And being a Black woman I actually believe it is a mistake to assume the earning of equality is the same as the knowing equality. Take the Jim Crow era for example. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed racism, subconscious bias, and (psychological) lynchings did not end. There were still White men and women who believed, and still believe, they are superior to Blacks and people of color simply because they are of European decent. And to this day these occurrences of discrimination, be it in the name of gender or race, or both, are still alive and well. They are alive in spaces that want token hires (someone with ambiguous or European favoring features) as oppose to someone of darker complexion. They are alive in spaces where the simple hiring of a Black person, a Black woman or man, is more important than providing equal pay and opportunity. They are alive in spaces where the presence of a Black person, a Black woman or man, or a person of color, is treated as something of a check-off rather than a necessity—a necessary voice. And they are alive in spaces where the writing off concepts such as colorism and racism is done in attempt to promote this ideology that these existences do not exist but are not, somehow, bound to the very foundation of this country. Not bound, or not tied, as if bias cannot be passed down the generations.

Q. 4. I’m excited that you have two books in the works. Can you tell us a little bit about your novel Blue Goes the Wind and your poetry collection I Only Have Marmalade?

Blue Goes the Wind is a Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Historical Drama novel. This year will mark three years of my journey with it. But I recently (February 2021) made the decision to set it aside so I can focus on my poetry collection I Only Have Marmalade. 

The making of IOHM was really the result of a long period of writer’s block. I thought writing poetry would allow me to get back in touch with BGTW. And once I had enough poems to make a book I realized I might as well try publishing it. 

As of now, IOHM is currently being reviewed by a publisher (I want to leave that last bit a surprise!) and I’m hoping to have some new news up on my Instagram as early as the summer.

Q. 5. A novel and a collection of poetry can be two very different writing styles and, thus, I feel like they are driven by dissimilar emotions. So I’m curious how you switch between the two. Do you structure your work days to write in one style specifically? Or do you write based upon what you feel passionate about that day?

That’s incredibly accurate. If I had to translate the feeling to someone who isn’t familiar with creative writing it would be just that: driving on the left side of the road and driving on the right side of the road. The transition is easier on same days than others. Then on other days switching from the voice of the main character of BGTW to poetry is like getting stuck in the middle of these two very different roads—and sinking into the ground below, while still in the car, as if it were quicksand. What’s difficult isn’t necessarily the writing mechanics (though it often is) but the difference of voice and atmosphere. When writing BGTW, I’m in its world and its entirely. When I’m writing poetry, I’m in my world or whatever world I’m trying to portray on a single page. So another difference is also the duration of these sessions. The longer I stay with poetry the more difficult it may prove for me to get used to writing fictionbecause the way I would attempt to describe something, like a building or a person, would be much different than how I would do so through poetry; and the longer I stay with fiction the harder it is for me to get used to simplifying a paragraph’s worth of description to a single stanza or a single sentence. 

Because of my recent decision to get IOHM out first the case has been much different. But when I was working on the two at the same time (throughout 2020) the previous was often the case: I was working on both simultaneously and setting boundaries between how long I would stay in either avenue.

Q. 6. What is one of your favorite books?

My favorite books include Walking With the Wind by John E. Lewis, Every Tongue Got to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston, and Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston. 

Q. 7. What is one of your favorite things to do in your free time?

I love gardening!!! And I love walking my German Shepherd and lounging at the beach. 🙂 

Q. 8. Publishing your own book is incredibly exciting, but also a difficult undertaking. Do you have an editor? Or are you planning to self publish? 

Yes! It’s both exciting and nerve wracking. Before this final draft (IOHM) there were two previous drafts. So to sort through the old pieces and see my progression as a writer has been eye opening. And because many of the poems in IOHM require me to dig deep into my experiences I’ve oddly found the entire process to be this continuous session of therapy. 

From my understanding there will be an editor reviewing IOHM. But the anticipation is actually more encouraging than anything else. Having worked at precious jobs as a marking associate, blog writer, and communications assistant I have a general idea of how editing and collaborating on these kinds of projects goes. And I think it’s because of this exposure that I feel more comfortable with feedback and critique. 

When I first started writing I was scared to show my stuff to my family!

Q. 9. What has your experience been like with finding a publisher (or print company if you are self publishing)?

Like a lot of writers the process is equally challenging and empowering. As my grandmother’s father used to say: “When there is a will, there is a way.” So even when the “way” didn’t show up I still believed I would find success because I had yet to exhaust myself of the options available to me. Of course, this doesn’t mean I was consistently optimistic—because there are still times I find myself in so bad of a funk that I don’t want to write or question why I write at all—but I guess I could get away with saying each time I felt depressed I eventually got back up because I knew I would feel worse about not trying at all. 

So it’s like that: if I’m going to feel down about something it might as well come from the result of trying, or succeeding, than this assumption of what would have happened had I kept working hard. 

Q. 10. What is something most people do not know about you? 

As much as I like going out, traveling, and meeting new people I’m very much an introvert. I like to be alone at the end of the day.

Q. 11. What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their dreams, but feel intimidated to promote themselves? 

That’s a tough one because I’m still having trouble overcoming this as well. But I guess I could say this: if you don’t do it (whatever it is) you’re going to fail—because you didn’t try. As women, especially Black women and women of color, we’re often told we can’t do it because of X and Y. If not because we’re a woman it’s because we’re an outspoken woman, or a too quiet woman, or a woman who has an opinion, or a woman who is her own boss, or a woman who takes pride in her aspirations, or a woman who isn’t afraid of trial and error, or a woman who isn’t afraid of labels. The point is that we’re going to be judged, as women or as a person who just so happens to identify as a woman, regardless of the good and the bad we do. 

…So why not try anyway? Just to see?

Q. 12. I know you have an avid interest in African and African-American folklore, so I would love to know what one of your favorite folklore stories is?

I love this question!!! There’s two actually that I remember to this day. The first is an African rooted moral story called The Son of the Wind. The second is this African-American moral story known as (at least in the book African-American Children’s Stories ) Good Blanche, Bad Rose, and the Magic Eggs. 

Both stories have slight differences depending on your source. So I would suggest to anyone interested in reading these stories to look them up (so you can get the full reading experience!)

Q. 13. In comparison to many countries, growing up in the United States is a blessing. And I feel very fortunate to get to enjoy freedoms won for us by the women who fought for us in the past. However, as I said before, there is still a long ways to go. A lot of crimes against women are swept under the rug. And in many respects our rights are spoken, but the actual upholding of them can become skewed. Can you share with us something that you would like to see improve for women?

Again, this is such a great question. Personally I believe there are many different avenues I can touch on here. On one hand there’s the issues we, as a whole, face collectively in some shape or form. However the reality is that the social setbacks Black women and women of color face are not always the same social setbacks White women face. The same goes for the difference of experiences between Black women, women of color, and women of mixed heritage. Then you have the impact things such as a colorism place upon our own ethnic groups. For example, being Black and Filipino I am nevertheless a minority—a Black woman. However because my features are more on the ambiguous side, and because my skin is on the lighter side, there are social privileges I and others have in the United States that have historically (and continue to) unfortunately allowed for more opportunity and acceptance in circles and institutions led by White men, and even White women, compared to those of darker complexion. Going back to your question, however, what I hope to see in my lifetime is more unapologetic and open conversation between American women, regardless of our backgrounds, on politics and race. Because that’s the thing—social media has allowed for us to connect and hold discussions. But is it always productive? Or purposeful? Or open-minded?Absolutely not.

Conversations lead to collaboration. And while I’m in no way trying to tell anyone what to do—because quite frankly I haven’t done much myself aside from writing—I do think the social pressure of the times have made many people, regardless of gender, think its better to stay quiet and keep to ourselves rather than voice our truth. Even if that truth is biased, even if that truth is supposedly politically incorrect, how can we possibly move forward if the majority of us are shutting up instead of reaching out? Or participating in (productive) discussions or workshops?

The most dangerous people, if you ask me, are those who treat those they hate or despise well because they know they have to. So instead of putting into the work to actually change their own opinion, to change their own life, they mask for the sake of not getting in trouble. So now—which is what we’re experiencing as a country, I think—we’re not only lying to ourselves but we’re lying to each other for the sake of pretending as if 2020 is that much different from 2021.

And it’s really not. As you said yourself—we still have a lot of work to do collectively. The solution is many solutions. But the solution is also all of us being more kind, more open, and more honest about the world we really want for ourselves and our communities.

Q. 14. Who are three women that inspire you? 

My mom (Marilyn Hughes), my grandmother, and my aunt (Lisa Hughes).

Q. 15. What is one of your favorite female empowerment quotes?

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” – Audre Lorde

Travel

Her books might not be published yet, but she still has a nice collection of poetry available to read – like what I shared in this post! You can see her instagram here. And her website is mghughesauthor.com.

Thank you for reading!

XO,

Mikéla

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