Writing, Community & Government

Writing as a Black Feminist

Roxane Gay

Lesson time 06:50 min

Roxane shares her perspective as a Black feminist, explaning how her identity has informed her work and desire to make change. She also speaks about the influence of Audre Lorde, the celebrated writer and activist, on her thinking and writing.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Influence of Audre Lorde


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Writing as a Black feminist is my way of sharing my thoughts and opinions informed explicitly by being Black and being a woman and believing that women are equal if not superior to men. You know, it's not a perspective that we see often in mainstream intellectual discourse. But it is a perspective that absolutely matters. I think that both feminism and intersectionality are not things I ever have to think about in my work. They just are part of my work because that's who I am and it's how I see the world. I understand that even though we're all women, we are not all the same, and we do not have the same experiences. And oftentimes, how we move through the world as women is informed by our race or gender presentation, you know, ethnicity, religion, class background, our level of ability, and so many other factors. And so we have to think about that and consider that. You know, when young writers think I'm gonna write something feminist or I'm gonna write something intersectional, like, they oftentimes seem to have, like, a checklist. And they go down the checklist and like, OK, I have covered this, and I've covered that. And then it feels like you're reading a list instead of engaging with an organic piece of writing. And so it's really more important that you have this sort of ethos of inclusion informing how you approach it, again, remembering that inclusion is not universality. So you're never going to get it right in that you're never going to accommodate every single person's reality. But you never want anyone to feel deliberately excluded either. And so it's trying to figure out that balance between articulating your truth even if it's specific and making sure that you are not being so narrow in your approach that nobody else has room to connect to what you're saying. In feminist discourse, I am one of the most prominent voices. And that's certainly nothing I ever imagined for myself. And it makes me uncomfortable because, unfortunately, when you write about a marginalized community, people tend to appoint you the spokesperson. And I refuse to be that only one. If I'm ever the only one in any given circumstance, then I have not done my job by bringing other people forward with me. And so if people look up to me, I hope they're looking up to me only because I'm taller, not because they have elevated me in an unnecessary way. You know, developing their own voice however it might be inspired or shaped by mine is the goal. You don't ever have to imitate the writers that you look up to or the writers that you, like, want to sort of try and follow in the footsteps of. You know, I read quite a lot and. I think that most of the books I've read have ended up being some of my best teachers. And there is a great deal of work that I return to time and time again because the books are simply brilliant. And they're brilliant in every way in terms of the stories that they tell, in terms of the ways in ...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author, professor, and New York Times columnist Roxane Gay has connected to readers around the world with her unyielding truth-telling and highly personal feminism. In her MasterClass, she teaches you how to own your identity, hone your voice, write about trauma with care and courage, and navigate the publishing industry. Learn how to document and narrate the world as you see it—and then demand change.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Roxane Gay

Bestselling author and cultural critic Roxane Gay teaches writing for social change and arms you with the skills needed to make an impact.

Explore the Class
Sign Up