Craving a way to give back and tell the stories of black women in a unique way, Nicole Sconiers, a former senior web producer at Dr.Phil.com, decided to put her master’s degree in creative writing to work when she penned “Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage”— a collection of 10 short stories.
While writing a book would’ve been enough of a massive undertaking for most people, Sconiers knew she didn’t want to stop there; she wanted to travel and speak about the ideas in her book. So, Sconiers quit her job in June, and over the summer she set out on the road with her mother and 34 boxes of her tales inside the Beckyville Bookmobile, a purple van wrapped in the book’s cover design. Together, they traveled from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, stopping at cultural centers and Indie bookstores along the way to discuss the book.
“I talk about controversial, taboo issues but in a way that is accessible, not preachy,” Sconiers told The Times Herald. She explained that much of her writing is a “play on how society sees women of color not being able to have any type of righteous rage.”
“I have a story called ‘Happy Black B****es,’ and the Rage Patrol is this police force that goes around policing black women to make sure they’re not angry. Black women can’t walk around with a frown because they’re being policed with their emotions. There are all types of issues — homelessness, domestic violence — for us to be angry about, and I wanted to explore that we can’t be righteously angry.”
Beckyville, she said, refers to a place filled with clueless, antagonistic people who have not “critiqued [their] privilege.”
So far, Sconiers has managed to sell her book in more than a dozen stores across the country and the Purdue University Department of Anthropology has decided to include the text in their Blackness and Culture curriculum next semester.
Despite a few snags along the way and advisement to those thinking of taking a similar path to at least draft a six-month plan before making any major moves, Sconiers says she would’ve missed out on these opportunities, “had I just stayed at my cubicle at ‘Dr. Phil.’”
“You can create your own opportunities and be your own boss.I left my job in the middle of a recession,” she said. “When you see the job market, opportunities are shrinking. You have to think of creative ways to generate income.
“You have to just get out of your comfort zone and create the images you want to see.”
Have you heard of Escape from Beckyville? Could you see yourself quitting a job to pursue a dream like Sconiers?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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