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Musing 05/31/20 The “Who and Where I Am: Rooting Writing in Identity and Place” Panel

I had the immense pleasure of attending the SFWA 2020 Nebulas Video Conference. Check my Twitter feed for everything I took part in. This panel however got me thinking. How does one decide identity?

I asked in the panel chat but there were hundreds of people there so it didn’t surprise me that they didn’t specifically touch on my question. I see people on social media all over identifying, she/her he/him, she/her/they? I have a feeling there’s a lot more to it than choosing she/her if you’re a woman. Or am I reading too much into it?

The panelists also discuss their cultures, roots and backgrounds and used what they learned to determine their identity and the identity of their written works. Growing up, I didn’t know who I identified as. We didn’t have such a thing. I was just me. I’m still me and that will not change. Although I was constantly being accused of trying to be white, like that was an offensive thing. I wasn’t trying to be anything or anyone but me. As I got older, that’s when I truly identified as me. Wendy A. Simpson. Black Woman or Black American. I sometimes use African American, but I’ve been Black for almost half a century and I will not change now.

I/Me watches cartoons, plays video games, gardens, likes many types of music, although for the record I don’t like Gangsta Rap and I’m only mildly interested in Country. And I read fantasy/science-fiction and a bit of romance or suspense every so often.

We didn’t have many choices back in the day that allowed me to find out about my roots. And I was so busy just trying to survive day to day that my roots weren’t on the top of my list. Reminder, this was before the internet or sites like Now I’m at a point where I can find out more, although I don’t know where to begin. Speaking of Ancestry, I’ve looked into but it’s expensive and I wonder if services like that are worth it. I’d love to hear from someone who successfully discovered their past. Sometimes, my grandfather would tell my brothers and I stories. I lost a lot from my memory, but I recall him specifically telling me that his grandmother was a Blackfoot Sioux. Which is why I used that tribe in Gunslinger Witch.

I want to know. I plan on finding a way. I guess I must do more research to find out how people make their choices. Maybe I’ll change then. Until someone says or I find out otherwise, I’m still me.



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