Freelance writer Reni Eddo- Lodge took time out of her busy schedule to share with TNT how she expresses her views on being a black feminist through her written work.
Some people feel uneasy using the word ‘feminist’, that doesn’t seem to be the case with you…
Feminist isn’t a contentious word. It gave me confidence during a time when I felt I was looked at as nothing more than a sex object by my male peers. Black feminism was powerful for me in terms of beauty, what’s acceptable, the norm… What I am and made me feel comfortable in my own skin.
Was tying politics and feminism together a conscious plan?
I got in to politics during university, there was always some protest or march that I’d get caught up in. I’d be there like ‘wow this is amazing, I want to know more and make a proper stand’. So I’d go away and do my research. Books raised my consciousness, I didn’t have to force race and politics and sexism and all that stuff together, it was already there and I wanted to highlight it.
What made you decide to be a freelance writer?
I love being freelance, this is what works for me. I’m an early riser anyway and am quite disciplined so I have my routine, you know; exercise and breakfast first thing, then set my priorities as I check my emails and always work to deadlines.
I don’t think I’ll ever work for just one publication, if I got an amazing offer then maybe but for now I think it’s important to get my message out there, across the board.
If there’s any publication I wouldn’t work for it’d have to be the New Statesman, they seem to be very anti-black feminism…
And in your spare time?
I think winter is my favourite my favourite time of the year because I get to stay in. I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment, exercising more and recently became vegan so I enjoy learning to cook new meals. It’s also a great time to catch up on all my Netflix shows!
After being cited as one to follow on twitter, who are you top three people to follow?
Ooh I couldn’t answer that! I probably don’t live up to the title myself, I don’t tweet as much as I probably should but it’s a great tool for getting your work and opinions out there. Twitter, along with my blog, is where my core following- those who go from publication to publication looking for my articles- can find all of my work in one place.
I’m really in to health and body image and all that at the moment so one person whose account I am keeping more of an eye on right now is @gabifresh, she’s a fashion blogger and body positive feminist. Her confidence and following is enviable and interesting.
Do you think there’s a need for publications that focus solely on highlighting issues and achievements in the black community?
Absolutely. I once read an NUJ study on self-reporting and it found something like 96 per cent of the news was white. That’s a huge problem as it shows the lack of support for black issues. Black publications bring young black journos to the fore and give them a chance in an industry that unfortunately tends to run on nepotism.
Your articles often ignite debates and intense opinions in the comments section, what are your hopes and aims when you first write a piece? Do you feel under pressure not to offend?
It’s just my opinion and sometimes people email me with theirs. I was messaged on Christmas day once being told that something I said was wrong. I was like, ‘it’s Christmas day what are you doing?’ I just went back to my family and enjoyed my food!
I get paid to write an article and that’s it so I don’t read the comments I have things to do. Once I write my piece I’m done, drop the mic.
There’s no pressure and I wouldn’t succumb to it anyway- who am I trying to please?
Have your views changed since you began campaigning? Do you think anything has changed at all?
Yeah loads. Five years ago I had a vague understanding of equality nuance, now my views and how I back them have become sharper and more developed the more reading and writing I do. Every day is a school day.
Racism happens in a much more covert manner but it’s very much still there.
You often write about the angry black woman stereotype. What do you say to those who think you’re an angry black woman?
To those who think I’m simply venting anger I’d say they’re not reading closely enough. After everything we’ve been through we have a right to be angry.
Finally, do you still have hairy armpits? (Armpits4August inspired Reni to challenge sexist stereotypes)
They’re as hairy as the hair on my head. It’s saved me a lot of money in toiletries!
TNT News Siobhan White