Sinclair: In your July 2017 article, “without a room of my own: the search for mindspace & creativity as a young, Black, womanist/feminist, femme-woman-mother-artist-sex worker”, you wrote: “Will my son learn from other men to think less of me? Will he bash other women for their “promiscuity” until he learns that his mother was a hoe? Will my guidance be enough to combat the misogynoir the men of this world will endeavor to teach him? Will he see my decisions as selfish or self-centered?” Where are you with these thoughts and concerns, a year later?
suprihmbé: I worry about this more and more as he gets older. I listen to the fathers and uncles speak to their sons. My son just has me, and the other women and femmes in his life. He doesn’t have a consistent male presence in his life, though he is exposed to many different kinds of masculinities. See, the one thing I noticed is that people only suggest you expose boys to other men because they think you’re incompetent. Because they want the boys raised the way they’re comfortable with. I’m only a mother to them, and though I am so much more to my son, as a Black woman I am not only stigmatized in the broader culture–Black men also see me as incapable of raising a son properly. Even though their mothers most likely raised them. One day, someone will tell my son that he is soft because of something he picked up from his queer hoe womanist mama… and that someone will probably be another Black boy or man whose guardians told him the same thing. And my son will carry that. He will carry all my, and his, differences in his own way, and I won’t be able to fully relate because I wasn’t raised the way he is. My worry intensifies as he gets older.
Sinclair: What led you to center sex work and womanism in your writing?
suprihmbé: It started on Facebook in groups and expanded to Twitter when I left there. I saw so many Black women speaking on their issues in Black feminist groups and in our own spaces (closed Black sex worker groups). But I also saw resistance happening between Black women and Black sex workers in these spaces. I started trying to theorize a sex worker womanism. There’s a Walker womanism, there’s Africana womanism. Why not a proheaux womanism? Toward the end of my relationship I had ventured back into sex work, this time camming. I had removed myself and my son from a violent situation and Black feminism and womanism was what got me through that. My whole goal is to be seen the way I want to be seen, and to help other Black and Brown sex workers do the same.
Sinclair: What is something we often get wrong when talking about sexuality?
suprihmbé: We don’t talk about sexuality as if it is a spectrum and too often we center sex and orgasms instead of enjoyment–though in cis women’s case this is because men often don’t expend the effort to please us. We need to talk more about asexuality, other sexualities. We gotta stop homogenizing these conversations.
Sinclair: What is one thing we can do to create safer spaces for those in the sex work industry?
suprihmbé: There’s no simple answer to this. I mean, there is. People should be allowed to do what they want with their bodies, and that includes sex. Plenty of people are having sex or engaging in adjacent acts just because they want to. Why penalize those who want to pay or be paid for their superior gifts/skills?
There is no one thing. We could say “leave us alone,” but what does that even mean? Cisgendered white women would have answered “decriminalization,” but that’s only a step, not a destination. Black women have other problems to contend with. There are other laws and stigmas that affect us and will continue to do so unless we think beyond that.
Listen to us.
Sinclair: Who do you go to when you’re needing support and guidance?
suprihmbé: I have a core group of friends of varying genders and experiences who I reach out to.
Sinclair: When was the last time you practiced self-care? What did you do?
suprihmbé: Last night. I smoke. Sometimes I watch TV. It’s relaxing and it allows me to slow down the buzzing in my brain.
Sinclair: You have an amazing portfolio of artwork. Show us a piece that you’re proud of and tell us what it means to you.
suprihmbé: I did a one page comic one night to get some feelings out and to practice. It means what it means.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been bringing you joy lately?
suprihmbé: Funding and over-funding my dreams has definitely been bringing me hella joy. My friend Erica is a close second though.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been pissing you off lately?
suprihmbé: People. They are terrible.
Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
suprihmbé: I can’t pinpoint a time. I have anxiety, this is constant for me. Plus I’m poor–not just broke but actually poor? So I am always doubting myself. Every month there’s doubt that I’ll have rent or succeed, and I have very few IRL people in my city in my corner right now.
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?
suprihmbé: I became clear on my values when I left my son’s father. I had started camming at the end of our relationship. I continued doing so when I left because it was just me and my son–he had took all the money and wasn’t helping me at all. I had an intense rebound relationship after that which further clarified things. Romantic relationships are always sticky for me, because I struggle to define yourself in a culture which says that when you are monogamous and partnered you forget everyone else. I seek to avoid that kind of enmeshment with a single person. I guess the rest of my values are in my writing. I can’t just list them LOL.
Sinclair: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with self-doubt and feeling like giving up on their dreams?
suprihmbé: I don’t give advice to people I don’t know. I don’t even know what to tell myself. Somehow I just keep pushing. I have to.
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you believe to be true. What would you say?
suprihmbé: Thotscholar is the best, you should, like, totally give her money.
suprihmbé was created by thotscholar and filmed in front of a hype, but exasperated live audience. she is a suppressed nomad who lives on the southside of chicago and drinks a lot of wine. her book, thotscholar: a proheaux womanist primer, will be out in December 2018.
Featured awesomeness: this amazing book excerpt.