Maya Johnson

Searching for a Black Writer

Mentor: Ellen Whittet

Searching for a Black Writer is a search for family and self; a black, femme coming-of-age memoir told through the lenses of pop culture, sex, and religion. This story follows my transition from home into university; an aimless journey of isolation, elitism, and party culture that defined the start of my adulthood. Beginning and ending with the dreams and aspirations of all who came before me, I revisit long lost or locked-away memories in conjunction with my present. As I trace back my lineage, I seek to articulate the soul I embody; me–black woman–as a vessel for trauma and hurt, a soul passed from generation to generation, tending to its scars, stretching old skin. Drawing from black feminist theorists and writers such as Joan Morgan, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Alice Walker, Nella Larsen and many more, this project seeks to contextualize my experiences within a broad history of racialized sexuality and the concept of “black excellence”. It examines race and sexuality not just as quantifiable markers of identity but as journeys of salience, connecting the past and the present, disillusionment and ostracism, love and lust, motherhood and perfectionism, spirituality and self-discovery.