“Am I allowed to feel joy during such a difficult time in America's history?"
Channing Brown’s guilt came at the heels of the success of her book, I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness — which was published in 2018, but didn’t become a New York Times best-seller until the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. She told The Hollywood Reporter, "[Brené] said to me, 'Austin, the first thing you need to know is that you didn't create this crisis and you're not unjustly profiting from it. ‘People have decided that your book is important right now, and that is something to rejoice in.”
In many ways, I’m Still Here couldn't have catapulted at better time. It's a memoir of Channing Brown's personal experiences as a Black woman existing in white America. But it's also a keen illustration of how our nation's "love affair with 'diversity'" often misses the mark, as we've seen in response to 2020's racial unrest and upheaval, particularly within our professional environments.
"Diversity gets treated like a passing trend," said Channing Brown, who is also the executive producer of the web series The Next Question. "In the mind of whiteness, half-baked efforts at diversity are enough because the status quo is fine."
"That is actually my only fear when I thought about women of color handing this book to their colleagues, even before this current moment in history," she added. "What is the coffee date after this going to look like? Are you going to be asked a million questions about whether or not you have experienced this or been called that or been told this, and then what do you say?"
Above all, she hopes to find our nation's allies collectively and proactively pursuing racial justice, rather than looking to people of color to let them know when they've done enough. I'm Still Here provides the necessary tools for that to happen, and Channing Brown's pivotal voice within the racial justice movement will undoubtedly see that they're put to use.
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of Black women who are changing the game. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.